Waka experiences for school kids of all ages

Outdoor education experiences that fit the curriculum

He Kupu Whakataki
Why waka and why us?

Tēnā koutou. Nau mai ki Kaiteretere

“An interactive, fun, cultural experience awaits.”

From the whānau of Waka Abel Tasman we would like to welcome you and your class to experience an interactive, fun, cultural experience that begins on the golden shores of Kaiteretere.

We are a local, whānau operated, Māori enterprise, passionate about sharing with our manuhiri (guests) some of the rich, cultural heritage associated with the sea voyaging experience. Our values sit strongly within a kaupapa Māori world view. It is therefore important to us that you and your ākonga (students) feel comfortable, connected and uplifted. We look forward to extending manaakitanga (hospitality) to your group, and guiding your students in the wonders of the takutai moana (marine environment) and through the awesome educational experience that awaits them.

"Broadgreen Intermediate greatly appreciates the fantastic work that 'Waka Abel Tasman' does in delivering an amazing experience. We are sending all of our classes out on this experience and they all have an amazing time.

This is not just physical activity but a time to experience Te Aō Maori, teamwork, history, geology, music and biology. The instructors take us on a journey of discovery, uncovering history of our local area, use of natural materials that can be used to create a vast variety of items from tools to musical instruments, learning Te Reo, have a go at blowing a Pūtātara (conch shell), participating in on board haka and come back feeling as one team, refreshed after an amazing experience on the water.

We will be continuing to have our children experience this activity as it is so much more than just conquering a physical challenge."

Pete Mitchener
Principal Broadgreen Intermediate

He Waka Eke Noa - Inclusion

He Waka Eke Noa

(We are all in the canoe without exception)

The Waka Abel Tasman collaborative and inclusive waka experience provides a unique opportunity for students and teachers to explore concepts of holistic learning, engaging all the senses, nurturing multiple dimensions of well-being (physical, intellectual, spiritual and social) and developing various aspects of key competencies. All whilst enjoying the amazing outdoor classroom, in and around the Abel Tasman.

He Hōtaka Ahurei

Tailored Programmes

Years 1-4

With a support ratio of 2 adults per 10 children in each double hulled waka, younger learners are offered a 1-2 hour introductory waka experience, keeping closer to shore within Kaiteretere Bay.

Years 5-8

With this age group being slightly stronger and more able, we can offer a 3-4 hour experience, taking in the coast along to Toka Ngawhā (Split Apple Rock).

High school

Tailored programs for youth can range from a 2 hour paddling excursion to multi-day journeys, delivered in partnership with Whenua Iti Outdoors, exploring the coastal marine reserves of Aorere (Abel Tasman National Park).

Unit Standards

We have a range of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa unit standards that we can deliver and assess. (Link)


He Āhuatanga Ahurea - Cultural Aspects

“He mauri tō te tangata,he whakapapa tōna, he mana motuhake”
(Every person has prestige, genealogy, heritage and identity)

Kōtahitanga and aroha

Core Māori values such as kōtahitanga (unity) and aroha (compassion), embraced by Waka Abel Tasman, enable participants to feel safe and connected as they encounter new experiences together. Through learning and using Te Reo Māori in the context of paddling waka, participants will be supported to develop confidence and competence in their efforts towards being bilingual.

Using te reo Māori, Māori customs and protocols

By understanding and using te reo Māori, New Zealanders become more aware of the role played by the indigenous language and culture in defining and asserting our point of difference in the wider world. (1)

During your time with us, students will engage in Māori customs and protocols, beginning with a whakatau (simple welcome ceremony) on the beach. Students will learn why these traditional cultural practices are important for us to maintain today. Local Māori history and heritage will be shared as well as information and understandings about particular atua (traditional deities) of the sea and land.

Tikanga waka

Wearing kahu kautere (life jackets) participants are allocated to rōpū (waka groups) to get to know each other better through a process of whakawhanaungatanga (relationship building). Tikanga waka (waka etiquette) are also introduced here so that paddlers learn how to interact respectfully with the waka and equipment. From the security of the shore, we practice tikanga hoe (paddling technique) before beginning our journey together with a karakia (blessing).

Our time on the sea, in the domain of Hine-Moana and Tangaroa (marine deities) will include at intervals, the sharing of historical information and stories related to the area. Additionally, paddlers will learn experientially about the multi-facetted challenges and achievements of paddling as a member of a waka team. Karakia at the end of the paddle signals gratitude for a safe return.

Poroporoaki (exchange of farewells)

A poroporoaki (exchange of farewells) then concludes onshore with hōngi, a traditional Māori expression of acceptance and trust with the pressing together of noses, (current social distancing restrictions notwithstanding).

(1) NZ Curriculum, Te Reo Māori: https://tereomaori.tki.org.nz/Curriculum-guidelines/The-importance-of-learning-te-reo-Maori/Changing-perceptions-over-time

“He oranga ngākau, he pikinga wairua”
(Positive feelings in the heart will raise ones sense of self worth)


Want to book your school class or group?

Email us with your school group details and we will get back to you to confirm your booking.

He Akoranga Ahutia - Fostered Learning

  • An appreciation for the collective strength that is harnessed when we support each other; this is felt when we are paddling together.
  • A willingness to integrate bicultural aspects into our daily lives, including being receptive to Māori world view and participating respectfully in cultural ceremonies.

    An awareness of Māori history pertaining to the area and of the natural resources that sustained traditional ways of life here.

  • A respect for the sea and marine ecosystem, and an instilled sense of kaitiakitanga; a responsibility to look after the natural environment for future generations.
  • A desire to develop our own resilience individually and collectively, through working on our weaknesses and sharing our strengths.

“Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini.”
(My strength is not mine alone, but of the many)

He Painga Ākonga - Student Benefits

Tamariki will feel safe and uplifted, whilst being challenged to:

  • Deepen their connection to the moana and to the local coastal area.
  • Develop a sense of ease with experiencing aspects of Te Ao Māori (Māori world view)
  • Feel proud and uplifted to be Māori and/or New Zealanders with an appreciation of our indigenous cultural and rich local heritage.
  • Muster grit, determination and perseverance for the sake of group success.

“He moana pukepuke e ekengia e te waka”
(A choppy sea navigated by canoe)

He Tīaroaro Mātāpono - Aligning Principles

“What better way to learn, than in a beautiful environment together, and in a supportive way.”

The Waka Abel Tasman educational experience aligns with all principles of the NZ Curriculum:

  • High Expectations
    by supporting and empowering students to learn and achieve personal excellence, regardless of their individual circumstances.
  • Cultural Diversity
    by reflecting New Zealand’s cultural diversity and valuing the histories and traditions of Tāngata Whenua.
  • Inclusion
    by ensuring that students’ identities, languages, abilities, and talents are recognised and affirmed and that their learning needs to achieve success through the waka experience are addressed.
  • Coherence
    by offering students an educational experience that makes links within and across learning areas, provides for coherent transitions, and opens up pathways to further learning.
  • Future Focus
    by encouraging students to look to the future by exploring such significant future focused issues as sustainability, citizenship, enterprise and globalization.
  • Treaty of Waitangi
    by acknowledging the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and the bicultural foundations of Aotearoa New Zealand. Students have the opportunity to acquire knowledge of Te Reo Māori me ōna Tikanga during their waka experience.
  • Community Engagement
    by providing students with a meaningful learning experience that connects with their wider lives, and engages the support of their families, whānau, and communities.
  • Learning to Learn
    by encouraging students to reflect on their own learning processes and challenging them with a new context in which to explore how to learn. (3)

(3) Adapted from NZ Curriculum, Principles: https://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Principles


“Each year Whenua Iti Outdoors are proud to partner with Waka Abel Tasman on a number of school and community programmes.

The Waka Ama components of our programmes represent excellent, engaging platforms for Kaupapa based experiential learning. Todd and Lee-Anne are great to work with, they are experienced and respected both as Waka paddlers and as educators.”

Mark Bruce-Miller,
Manager Whenua Iti Outdoors

He Hikinga Uara - Upholding Values

"He toka tū moana"
(As a rock that remains steadfast in the surging sea)

The Waka Abel Tasman educational experience upholds the core values of the NZ Curriculum, encouraging students to value:

  • Excellence by aiming high and by persevering in the face of difficulties;
  • Innovation, inquiry, and curiosity, by thinking critically, creatively, and reflectively;
  • Diversity as found in our different cultures, languages, and heritages;
  • Equity through fairness and social justice;
  • Community and participation for the common good;
  • Ecological sustainability, which includes care for the environment;
  • Integrity, which involves being honest, responsible, and accountable and acting ethically; and to respect themselves, others, and human rights (4).

(4) NZ Curriculum, Values: https://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum#collapsible6

He Pātai - Common Questions

How many students can be catered for at one time?

The maximum number at one time that we can take in each group is 44 and the minimum is four. We can do as many rotations as necessary, so larger numbers are no problem.

When are Waka Abel Tasman trips offered for school groups?

Bookings are available throughout the year, Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am. When making a booking, select a preferred date and a secondary option in case of unavailability. Please note that all online bookings are initially tentative and are subject to confirmation.

Who should be made known and/or identified to Waka Abel Tasman?

Those with medical conditions and/or students requiring an adapted waka experience should be made known to Waka Abel Tasman at the time of booking, or as soon as possible afterwards, to allow instructors time to consider and plan for any necessary modifications. Students requiring additional support to ensure student safety should also been identified to the instructors on the day.

What should participants wear and bring?

Comfortable leisurewear suitable to the activity and the weather conditions is the most appropriate type of clothing for this occasion. Participants should also bring a warm, windproof jacket, sunhat and water bottle. Emergency medications, such as Ventolin for asthma, should be carried by the individual requiring them if self-managing, or by an accompanying adult chaperone.

Why might a waka experience be postponed or cancelled?

All efforts will be made to check anticipated weather conditions well ahead of your scheduled session. If however expected extreme weather poses a threat to student safety on the sea, an alternative date, time or session programme may need to be coordinated in consultation with the contact teacher.

Where can school groups locate suitable nearby accommodation if required?

Schools can book to stay at Bethany Park, in Kaiteretere.
Alternatively, Marahau Outdoor Education Centre 



Want to book your school class or group?

Email us with your school group details and we will get back to you to confirm your booking.