Waka welcomed home from epic journey

03:14, May 18 2013
WAKA TAPU: Crew of two traditional waka are back on shore after completing their epic voyage through the South Pacific.

Crew of two traditional waka are back on shore after completing their mammoth 10-month and 10,000 nautical mile voyage through the South Pacific.

Crew of Te Aurere and Ngahiraka mai Tawhiti were formally welcomed back to shore at 2pm, ten months on from when they set out on the 10,000 nautical mile adventure on the high seas.

The crews of the double-hulled sailing canoes - who vary in age from 18-67 - sailed to Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and back, using just the stars, moon, sun, ocean currents, birds and marine to guide them.

Waka Tapu organiser and New Zealand Māori Arts & Crafts Institute NZMACI director, Karl Johnstone said arrival completes a milestone in New Zealand's modern day navigation history.

''The crew has closed the final corner of the Polynesian Triangle defined by Hawaii in the North, New Zealand in the South and Rapanui in the East,'' Johnstone said.

''This project also recognises a life's work by our esteemed tohunga tārai waka (waka building expert), Hekenukumai Busby. Without Hekenukumai and the support given to him from some of our elder statesmen who have now passed on, the likes of the late John Rangihau, Simon Snowden and James Henare, none of this would have been possible.''


The crew's arrival marked the opening of NZMACI's fourth wananga, Te Wananga-a-Kupe Mai Tawhiti, also based in Doubtless Bay. Te Wananga-a Kupe will teach all aspects of kaupapa waka (waka projects, practices, and activities) including waka building and non-instrument navigation.

''The training programme is incredibly important for Māori and our Pacific relations.  It is designed to keep the traditions and skills of our oldest seafaring explorers alive so they can be shared and passed on to future generations,'' Johnstone said.

Overall there have been 60 crew members sailing on various stages of the journey ranging in age from 18 to 67, descending from a number of iwi around New Zealand.

"The full significance of this voyage will continue to be realised in the years to come,'' Johnstone said

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