Friday, 31 May 2013

Voyaging waka return

Last week the waka hourua Te Aurere and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti sailed in to Mangonui, Northland.  They were returning to Aotearoa after a 10 month round-trip voyage to Rapanui. What makes this voyage significant is that it was completed in traditionally-built double-hulled voyaging waka using traditional, non-instrument means of navigation.  The stars, moon, sun, ocean currents, bird and marine life of the oceans and guided the waka crew.  This 10,000 mile route has not been attempted for hundreds of years.

Since the 1960s, there has been a revival of investigation and interest into traditional navigation and Pacific voyaging techniques and technologies.  The Central Auckland Research Centre holds several books in its Te Kohinga Matua section that document studies which have strengthened the knowledge in this area.

This voyage, named Waka Tapu, was the dream of Doubtless Bay master waka-builder Hekenukumai Busby, who built and carved the waka hourua.  The waka which brought early Polynesian explorers across the Pacific and to NZ would have looked similar.

Ref: 1-W1339, photograph of a painting by Kennett Watkins, showing a group of 6 canoes leaving Rarotonga for New Zealand in AD 1350, Sir George Grey Special Collections.
Te Wananga-a-Kupe Mai Tawhiti is a new school which has opened at Doubtless Bay. This school will teach all aspects of kaupapa waka, complementing that which Hekenukumai Busby and his whanau conduct at Aurere.

Author: Emma Chapman, Central Auckland Research Centre

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