Waka Tapu set out for 18,500km voyage
Fri, 17 Aug 2012 5:14p.m.
By 3 News online staff
Two traditional waka hourua left Auckland this morning to sail 18,500km without any navigational instruments.
The 17-member crews of the double-hulled waka will use the sun, stars, moon ocean currents, and animals to guide them to Rapanui, also known as Easter Island, on a six to eight week voyage.
They were treated to a Maori farewell, with friends and family turning out to wave goodbye. The boats were then escorted out of the harbour by a flotilla of Navy vessels.
Heading the Waka Tapu expedition is 80-year-old Northland navigator and canoe builder Hekenukumai Busby, who built both canoes, Te Aurere and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti.
Te Aurere was built in the early 1990s and has already sailed 55,000km to Hawaii, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island, while Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti was built last year.
The waka have no cabins or modern amenities on board
The journey has been planned for 20 years and was organised by the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) along with Te Taitokerau Tarai Waka.
NZMACI director Karl Johnstone says the voyage will mimic the way the ancestors of Maori travelled when they discovered New Zealand.
“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.”
Rapanui is a territory of Chile and the Chilean government is welcoming the visit from the waka, with hopes it will highlight connections between New Zealand and Chile.
Another traditional waka voyage returned from an 18-month trip yesterday. It aimed to raise awareness of the need to protect the oceans and was funded by German philanthropist Dieter Paulman.
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