Top tips for the festival

The Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival goes ahead rain or shine. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and a hat, although there is plenty to do inside the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre when you need a break from the sun. Make sure you also bring some money to grab some of the amazing kai or to take a trip on a sailing waka.

For first-time festival goers:

  • On Saturday, 28 January, the festival starts with the arrival of waka at 7am, a rare chance to see multiple waka on the waters of the Waitematā Harbour, followed by a powhiri in the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre at 8am.
  • Don’t miss 80 kaihaka, kapa haka performers from Te Waka Huia, performing in tribute to the group’s founders and champions of modern kapa haka, the late Dr Ngapo ‘Bub’ Wehi and his wife Dr Pimia Wehi, 10.30am on Saturday.
  • Check out some of New Zealand’s brightest musical stars teaming up with emerging musicians in collaborations designed to nurture the next generation. The established musicians are Troy Kingi; Whirimako Black; Ria Hall; Seth Haapu; Rob Ruha; Ranea Aperahama; and Majic Paora. The emerging talent includes Aporonia Arahanga; Sherydon Ngaropo; Kaaterama Pou; Ngapera Aperahama, Te Punawai and Teone Hotu.
  • Try your hand at traditional Māori crafts and games, learn some words of Te Reo Māori or find out about using traditional Māori plants for healing in free workshops.
  • Register early to have a go at paddling a waka or sailing on a double-hulled ocean-going waka – these activities are so popular, they book up fast. Sailings are $10 per adult and $5 per child.
  • Try hot hangi, mussel fritters, creamed paua, fried bread or boil-up – with pork, potato, kumara, pumpkin and fresh watercress.
  • Get a temporary moko.
  • Find a perch on the Karanga Plaza steps, Te Wero Island or in the grandstand of the Viaduct’s Market Square to watch the fiercely contested tribal waka races on Saturday.
  • You can pick up a programme and map at the festival information tent – or download them here.

For returning festival-goers:

  • Bring some friends who haven’t been before.
  • Come early on Saturday for the waka arrival at 7am and the 8am powhiri.
  • Don’t miss the tribute to Te Waka Huia founders Dr Ngapo and Dr Pimia Wehi (10.30am Saturday), or the closing tribute to Prince Tui Teka, Maui ‘Dalvanius’ Prime and Sir Howard Morrison, with performances by Patea Māori Club, Howie Morrison Jnr and Troy Kingi (4pm Sunday).
  • Check out the story-telling on Level Two in the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre – iwi telling their own stories, Tamaki Tales by Whale Rider actor Rawiri Paratene, and the Auckland Museum Story Lab where you can create your own story.
  • Remember to sign up early for the activities that book out fast – the rongoā Māori hands-on traditional healing sessions, the waka paddling and sailing experiences.
  • Have a look at Auckland Art Galley’s The Māori Portraits Pop-up Exhibition and listen to curator talks to learn more, on Level Two.
  • Listen to performances from Troy Kingi; Whirimako Black; Ria Hall; Seth Haapu; Rob Ruha; Ranea Aperahama; and Majic Paora, each teaming up with emerging stars including Aporonia Arahanga; Sherydon Ngaropo; Kaaterama Pou; Ngapera Aperahama, Te Punawai and Teone Hotu.
  • Become part of the festival – do a Facebook livestream video.

For kids:

  • Have a go at traditional Māori games.
  • Weave a flax flower.
  • Get a temporary moko (temporary tattoo) painted on your face.
  • Dance in front of the main stage, where there will be singers, kapa haka performers and a DJ.
  • Listen to stories upstairs on Level Two, and join Auckland Museum educators as they help you to create your own stories through kōrero, music and art. Get up close to ta moko (tattoo) instruments and taonga pūoro (Māori instruments) and be inspired by taonga from the Auckland Museum collections.
  • Share ice-cream in half a watermelon or pineapple.
  • Watch the exciting tribal waka races on Saturday.

For parents:

  • There are loads of child and family-friendly free activities at the Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival.
  • A host of staff and volunteers from Te Wānanga O Aotearoa, He Oranga Poutama Ki Tāmaki Makaurau and Auckland Museum are on hand to teach children traditional crafts and games, and to create their own stories.
  • The waterfront is very busy on Auckland Anniversary Weekend, so just in case you get separated, write your mobile phone number on your child’s arm or hand and snap a photo of your child in the day’s outfit when you arrive.
  • Agree on a meeting place if family members get separated.
  • The Lost Kids tent is just outside the main festival entrance of the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre.
  • With a registered AT HOP card, children aged 5 to 15 years pay just 99 cents for bus and train travel for all of Auckland Anniversary Weekend.

For being social:

  • Share your festival experiences on Twitter and Instagram tagged #tamakifest
  • Follow What’s On in Auckland on Facebook for event updates

For travelling to and from the festival:

  • The ANZ Viaduct Events Centre and Viaduct Basin are located in the heart of Auckland city on Auckland’s waterfront. They can be easily reached from any part of the city, by foot, bike, car or public transport.
  • Make your journey to the festival a hassle-free one by planning your trip beforehand.
  • The Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival is a 10-minute walk from downtown Auckland’s Britomart Station and Ferry Terminal.  Plan your journey or download a timetable from Auckland Transport at
  • Public transport is the best way to get to the festival, whether it’s a bus, train or ferry. It’s often easier and quicker.
  • The festival is also easily accessible from the cycleway network.