Pacific waka voyage with no GPS
Fri, 18 May 2012 11:20a.m.
By Dan Satherley / NZN
Two double-hulled waka are to sail nearly 19,000km without modern navigational aids from New Zealand to Rapa Nui later this year, recreating Maori ancestral journeys across the Pacific.
The two waka, with no cabins or mod-cons and carrying up to 24 crew, will use only the stars, moon, sun, ocean currents, birds and marine life to guide them to Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, in a bid to retrace and revitalise the steps of their ancestors.
The expedition, named Waka Tapu or sacred canoe, is being organised by the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute and Te Taitokerau Tarai Waka and will be officially launched in Rotorua today.
The waka will leave Auckland on August 17 and the voyage is likely to take up to 10 weeks each way, with outward stops in Raivavae and Mangareva, and Tahiti and Raratonga on the return trip. They will be staying at Rapa Nui for a week.
After waiting out the cyclone season, they are expected to return by April.
Maritime NZ says it is aware of the vessel's intended voyage, and will be working with the crew and support staff to ensure it meets legal requirements.
An inspector will be looking at the waka in the coming days.
"Maritime NZ understands the crew will be well-prepared with safety equipment including a distress beacon, satellite phone and liferafts," says communications advisor James Sygrove.
The expedition will be headed by Northland navigator and canoe builder Hector Busby, who turns 80 this year.
He built both waka; Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti last year, and Te Aurere, which has now sailed over 55,000km around the Pacific.
Institute director Karl Johnstone says the voyage aims to close the final corner of the Polynesian Triangle, defined by Hawaii in the north, New Zealand in the south and Rapa Nui in the east.
"While some historians believe the ancestors of Maori discovered this country by accident, there's no doubt their voyages to and from New Zealand were deliberate and planned.
"They compiled star maps, traded knowledge, studied the flight path of birds, the migration patterns of whales, and used tidal movements and other environmental indicators to reach their destination safely and accurately. And that's what we will emulate."
The crew lists are yet to be finalised. At least 60 percent will be fluent in Maori, and some of them will be women.
Food will be restocked at their stopovers, but dedicated fishermen and women will be on board.
Rapa Nui is the most remote inhabited island in the world. It is best known for its hundreds of 'moai' statues.
3 News / NZN
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30/06/2012 10:35:08 a.m.
Stan Lusby wrote:
Please read: "Navigation and Discovery in the Polynesian Oceanic Empire" to evaluate more aspects of Oceanic voyaging research.(University of Otago) Published Lusby et al,"Hydrographic Journal" Nos 131 & 132 and 134 Autumn 2010.
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