Waka retraces ancient journey

Sailors use land and stars as their ancestors did

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 06/05/2014
waka Haunui
JOHN HAWKINS/ Fairfax NZ

PLAIN SAILING: Bluff woman Steph Blair sailed down the coast from Dunedin on the Haunui. The waka, which began its journey from Auckland at the start of March, has sailed the Pacific as far as San Francisco. 

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A well-travelled waka has been welcomed in Bluff after its two-month journey from Auckland.

The Haunui's arrival was welcomed by southern iwi yesterday afternoon at Bluff Harbour.

Haunui's kaihautu, or co-ordinator, Hoturoa Kerr, said the journey was a chance to bring the waka to the south and what was achieved by Maori ancestors.

The waka retraced ancient seafaring journeys that spanned oceans and relied on the skill of the ancient sailors, he said.

"People often don't believe the waka can be navigated without modern instruments," Kerr said.

It was mostly plain sailing for the 16 crew members on the 22-metre waka.

"We tried to sail in fair weather and winds, but once in a while it got a bit rough," Kerr said.

However, Haunui has handled large tracts of open water before.

"The waka has sailed the Pacific and reached San Francisco," Kerr said.

"It's about seeing the sea and the lands the way our ancestors did. No one has done this for hundreds of years," he said.

Bluff woman Steph Blair joined the crew of the Haunui waka in Dunedin on Saturday and was one of those proud to sail into the southern port and bring the waka's story to life. 

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