Ngātokimatawhaorua author Jeff Evans interviewed by NZ Booklovers


Jeff Evans is a non-fiction writer based in Auckland, New Zealand. He has written extensively about both waka and voyaging, including the 2015 biography of Pwo navigator Sir Hekenuku-mai-ngā-iwi (Hec) Busby, Heke-nuku-mai-nga-iwi Busby: Not Here By Chance. Other publications include Ngā Waka o Neherā: The First Voyaging Canoes; The Discovery of Aotearoa (later reissued as Polynesian Navigation and the Discovery of New Zealand); Waka Taua: The Māori War Canoe; and Māori Weapons in Pre-European New Zealand. Jeff talks to NZ Booklovers about Ngātokimatawhaorua.

What drew you to write the story of this particular waka?

Ngātokimatawhaorua is an iconic waka taua, and not just for its size. It is intrinsically connected to the commemoration of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, so holds a special place in the history of Aotearoa New Zealand. Interacting with the waka in any way — whether it be as a crew person, a support person, a visitor to the Treaty Grounds, or as a spectator when it is out on the water — leaves an indelible memory, and that was certainly the case for me. The sight of a full crew paddling the waka on Waitangi Day should be witnessed by every New Zealander.

Why was it built?

Ngātokimatawhaorua was built as the Māori contribution towards commemorating the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. An interesting part of its history is the conflict that arose when Waikato experts were sent north to help oversee its construction. Certain factions in the north were less than impressed.

Read the full interview here