Rivers were a major transport route for early Māori communities, who travelled along them by waka (canoe). This unfinished waka, called Te Waonui o Tāne, was discovered buried under an Ōtorohanga quarry near the Waipā River. It was uncovered by River Run quarry owner Brian Withers when clearing topsoil in 2002. The Department of Conservation and the Historic Places Trust oversaw the waka's excavation and treatment. It was estimated to be between 150 and 200 years old when unearthed.
Te Waonui o Tāne is the only waka to have been found at its construction site. The tree roots are still visible at one end. It was evidently never launched, being abandoned where it was made and gradually buried over time when the river flooded. The waka is kept in a purpose-built house at Ōtorohanga Museum.
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Photograph by Janine Faulknor
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