Since 2009, Toi Māori Aotearoa has participated in the Annual Tribal Canoe Journeys at the invitation of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.
The Canoe Journeys is an annual event that sees the Pacific Northwest Tribes travel ancestral ocean pathways in an assertion of indigenous unity and cultural resurgence.
The first Canoe Journey, the ‘Paddle to Seattle’ was staged in 1989 in response to the centennial commemorations of Washington State. That same year, indigenous sovereignty was recognised through the signing of the Centennial Accord, which established a government-to-government partnership structure to ‘better achieve mutual goals through an improved relationship’.
 ‘Centennial Accord: Centennial Accord between the Federally Recognised Indian Tribes in Washington State and the State of Washington’, goia.wa.govt/relations/centennial-accord
Since then, the Annual Canoe Journey has seen the revitalisation of ancestral canoe practices and now involves more than 100 canoe families hosted by different tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest Coast. Landings at various sites are events that see an exchange of songs and food among the various tribal families and the conveyance of ancestral protocol across generations.
Since 2009 Toi Māori Aotearoa kaihoe have participated in the Annual Canoe Journey at the invitation of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, an invitation that arose from a series of engagements between Toi Māori Aotearoa with the indigenous peoples of the North West Coast.
The Relationship with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde
The relationship with the Grand Ronde began with the 2005 exhibition project, Māori Art Meets America staged San Francisco. Anchored by the presentation of the touring exhibition of Māori weaving, The Eternal Thread at the Yerba Buena Centre, Māori Art Meets America involved eighty Māori artists and saw the launch of the waka taua, Te Ika Roa a Māui, on San Francisco Bay in partnership with the Ohlone Tribe, the indigenous people of San Francisco.
Under the leadership of Te Roopu Raranga Whatu and supported by other national Māori art committee representatives, ‘The Eternal Thread’ was toured to the Hallie Ford Museum, Salem, Oregon, co-hosted by the Siletz and Grand Rhone tribes. ‘The Eternal Thread’ served as a cultural exchange between weavers and lead to an invitation for two Suquamish weavers to attend the 2007 Waitangi Waka pageant, who immediately recognised the similarities with the Annual Canoe Journey.
In October 2008, Toi Māori Aotearoa developed the exhibition ‘Toi Māori Small Treasures’ for the De Young Museum in San Francisco. This exhibition created an opportunity for Toi Māori representatives to meet with Siletz and Grand Rhone tribal leaders in Oregon, who extended an invitation from Bobby Mercier, Cultural Leader and Canoe Master from the Grand Rhone for Māori to attend the 20th Annual Canoe Journey.
With the support of Ngā Waka Federation, Toi Māori Aotearoa Operations Manager, Tamahou Temara and Mātaatua kaihoe, Francis Mamaku attended the 2009 ‘Paddle to Suquamish’ in the Puget Sounds to establish the relationship and convey an invitation to Bobby Mercier from Ngā Waka Federation to attend the 2010 Waitangi Waka Pageant – the 20th year of this event first staged for the sesquicentennial commemorations of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1990.
Since that initial voyage, the following kaihoe have represented Ngā Waka Federation at the Annual Canoe Journeys.
2010 ‘Paddle to Makah’, Neah Bay, WA: Joe Conrad, Francis Mamaku
2011 ‘Paddle to Swinomish’ at La Conner, WA: Joe and Waimirirangi Conrad
2012: ‘Paddle to Squaxin Island’ at Kamilche, WA: Waimirirangi Conrad and Chappy Harrison
2013: ‘Paddle to Quinault’ at Taholah, WA: Taituha Mamaku and Anaru Irwin
2014: ‘Paddle to Bella Bella’ at Campbell Island, BC: Ihaia Puketapu, Caleb Wharepapa, Tamahou Temara
2016: ‘Paddle to Nisqually Tribe’ at Olympia, WA: Ihaia and Marissa Puketapu, Waikarere Gregory
2017: ‘Paddle to We Wai Kai’, Campbell River, BC: Noel Woods, Tuparahuia Pita
2018: ‘Paddle to Puyallup Tribe’, Puyallup, WA: Tamahau Tangitu, Te Kerekau Nicholas
2019: ‘Paddle to Lumni Nation, Lummi, WA: Piripi Taylor, Kevin Harrison