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May 30, 2011 | by  | in News |
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Auckland Wants A Waka Too

The Wellington Waterfront is something we all are very proud of in this city. Whether we would still be proud to host a monstrous plastic waka on our city’s shores is another question, one that is being debated in New Zealand’s favourite city, Auckland.

With the Rugby World Cup only four months away, the debate still rages about the $2 million construction of a giant waka on Auckland’s waterfront. The waka will be 60-metres long and almost 15-metres high and will be used as an events centre to showcase Maori culture, arts, businesses and enterprise.

The joint venture between the Ngati Whatua and the Government has support from the Auckland City Council. Ngati Whatua, who will own the events centre after the World Cup, has contributed $100,000 to the $1,988,00 project, leaving the rest to be paid by the tax-payer.

Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples announced the plan in April saying “the haka is inextricably identified with All Black rugby, and Maori culture is a uniquely recognisable characteristic of New Zealand. This programme builds on our distinctive brand to promote New Zealand as a top visitor destination, and a place to do business.”

Labour MP Shane Jones has branded the project as a “joke” saying it is difficult to understand why Dr Sharples “is promoting this blow-up waka so enthusiastically”. Talking to Radio New Zealand, Mr Jones crunched the numbers saying “this is about $2 million for an 18-day project, so in my estimation it works out about 180-odd K a day”.

Many Victoria students share this view that the erection of a plastic waka seems to be a waste of taxpayers money in a time when the government is tightening its belt in tough economic times.

There is a common view that “the Maori culture will be represented in other ways.” One student echoed Mr Jones’ comment to Radio New Zealand that “the only thing Maori wanted to see from the world cup was All Blacks Piri Weepu and Hosea Gear holding the trophy aloft”.

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