A Waka Odyssey

New Haka for Wellington

11 February 2018

1000 people are set to perform a new haka for Wellington, Kupe Hautoa, at the Kupe: Festival Opening Night show. Find out what the haka means to creator, Kura Moeahu, ahead of its 23 February debut. 

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Having never had its own haka, 1,000 individuals are currently learning a new haka for Wellington, Kupe Hautoa, to be ready in time for Kupe: Festival Opening Night, at 7pm on Friday 23 February 2018.

The haka will be performed as part of a spectacular, newly-commissioned theatrical performance to welcome a majestic fleet of waka hourua (double-hulled voyaging waka) as they sail into Te Whanganui-A-Tara, Wellington Harbour. Featuring alongside the haka, will be performers, a 250-strong choir, and a musical score composed by musician Warren Maxwell (Trinity Roots, Little Bushman).

Kupe Hautoa was composed by Kura Moeahu. Kura says, “the haka was written for all New Zealanders to enjoy acknowledging the leadership characteristics that both past and current navigators demonstrate. 

[It's about] Māori and non-Māori side by side, together as one.

Kura Moeahu

Of particular acknowledgement is the first Pacific navigator and explorer Kupe the discoverer of Aotearoa, the various challenges he overcame as he navigated the turbulent seas and the leadership qualities required to undertake such lengthy journeys. The haka is something that hopefully we as a region can adopt into our daily lives whether at school, functions, supporting our Wellington sports representative or at spectacular events.”

Many hands were involved in the creation of the new haka. The New Zealand Festival, Te Ātiawa / Taranaki Whānui Iwi, the kaihoe (paddlers on waka ama and waka taua), local schools and marae, and all those at rehearsals throughout the region practising  Kupe Hautoa for the opening weekend of the New Zealand Festival. Moeahu acknowledges this input, saying the haka is about “Māori and non-Māori side by side, together as one.”

Tuparahuia Pita, leader of Te Ātiawa's waka team believes Kupe Hautoa will help to “foster understanding of the importance of navigation and the cultural traditions of Māori, waka and haka. [The haka] brings who we are to life.”

See it live, and be part of this landmark celebration of our Pacific past and future ... 


Each day, starting  1 February 2018, we will share new videos and stories online so you too can join the journey in the lead up to the start of A Waka Odyssey, 23 February – 4 March 2018. Be part of the story via our website festival.co.nz/waka, on the New Zealand Festival's Facebook and Instagram pages, or using the hashtags #NZWaka and #NZFestival. 


Join in A Waka Odyssey celebrations at the spectacular theatrical extravaganza KupeFestival opening night set on Wellington's waterfront; the Kupe Landing: Petone Family Day – a fun beach party for all the whānau; and the Kupe Dreaming series of waka-themed community events and activities. 

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