Pacific Ocean the focus of epic waka voyage
Thu, 16 Aug 2012 6:38p.m.
By Tom McRae
After a year-and-a-half at sea, it's been an emotional return for dozens of sailors who've made it all the way to North America and back in traditional waka.
The first of four New Zealand waka returned this afternoon, after a voyage promoting the protection of the Pacific Ocean.
Rangitoto was a welcome sight for a weary crew who've been roughing it on the Southern Ocean. There was not only relief at being home, but excitement about what they'd achieved.
"It was about reviving our traditional culture, our traditional methods of sailing and navigational culture, and a huge environmental message about looking after our oceans," says Tua Pittman, chief waka officer.
The full fleet of seven waka, four of which are from New Zealand, stopped at almost every Pacific Island nation, pushing the message of how important protecting the ocean is.
"One of the main, initial drivers was a message of conservation of the sea and the threat the ocean faces, and how it produces a third of the oxygen we breath, and if we let it die then we all die too," says Greg Callop, waka captain.
The voyage was also designed to bring together the different Pacific cultures and celebrate the tradition of travelling by waka.
They left New Zealand 18 months ago, travelling through the Pacific Islands then on to San Francisco. They then made their way down the coast to Central America, through the Galapagos Islands, back through the Pacific Islands, then finally south to New Zealand.
"They're an amazing design and it's amazing that 1000 years ago it's a pretty similar design to what our ancestors were using and they just work," says Mr Callop.
But with up to 16 on board it was tight squeeze.
"We're all like family, we met each other on this voyage and you can't help but be close on board," says Kainoa Kahaunaele, waka crew member.
The waka and their crews will now sail around New Zealand, taking their message to an audience a little closer to home.
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22/08/2012 2:09:10 p.m.
Rewa Dewes wrote:
Good on you all for your achievement
16/08/2012 6:52:27 p.m.
hi. when will the waka's be visiting tauranga?
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