Waka believed to be over 150 years old discovered in south Taranaki

A waka believed to be over 150 years old has been discovered and rescued from a river near New Plymouth this week. 

The waka was recovered from the Pātea River and was pulled out largely intact and airlifted from the water. 

The waka was discovered by local iwi and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage

"We confirmed that it was made of totara, which was obviously connected to Māori... so very, very fortunate and very grateful," Ngāti Ruanui historian Darren Ngarewa told The Project. 

The waka is believed to be hidden by Te Pakakohi, Ngāti Ruahine and Ngā Rauru to prevent it from being confiscated by the Crown in 1869.

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, sister of Darren and Te Pāti Māori co-leader, told The Project on Thursday the waka is an "amazing" taonga.

"The significance of it being 154 years to the day that it was found and lifted out of when our tūpuna was captured and taken to trial into Dunedin is really significant," Ngarewa-Packer said. 

"There is a lot to the reclaiming of the waka and as Darren said it's the whole community's. So it's our whakapapa but it belongs to the whole community to understand today."

Ngarewa-Packer hopes the waka will be displayed at the Pātea Museum, so everyone can appreciate a lost part of history.