Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars - North Technology

5,400nm by Stars Moon and Sun - New Zealand to Easter Island

by Samantha Allan/Sail-World Cruising on 29 Jul 2012
Easter Island ahoy .. .
In under three weeks a group of intrepid New Zealanders will soon undertake an amazing (and some say, perilous) journey across the Pacific Ocean in traditional waka hourua (double-hulled sailing canoes), using only the stars, moon, sun, ocean currents, birds and marine life to guide them.


Two waka hourua carrying up to 24 crew will depart Auckland on the 17th August this year bound for Rapanui (Easter Island). The journey will see them sail a return trip without GPS or modern navigational tools in a bid to retrace and revitalise the steps of their ancestors.

This epic journey has been 20 years in the making and is attracting global academic, scientific and media attention.
This historically-significant expedition, named Waka Tapu (sacred canoe), is being organised by the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute in partnership with Te Taitokerau Trai Waka.

The expedition will be headed by renowned Northland navigator and canoe builder Hekenukumai 'Hector' Busby (MBE) who will turn 80 this year. Hector, a revered exponent of waka traditions internationally, built both of the double-hulled sailing canoes. He built the principal waka, Te Aurere, in the early 1990s after being inspired by the arrival of a Hawaiian canoe which voyaged to Aotearoa in 1985.

Te Aurere has now sailed over 30,000 nautical miles, visiting Hawaii, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, New Caledonia, and Norfolk Island.

'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,' New Zeland Maori Arts and Crafts Institue Direcotr Karl Johnston said of the ancient Polynesian sailors. 'That’s what we will emulate.'

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, a Chilean territory known for its 887 monumental moai statues, is one of the world’s most isolated inhabited islands. The sailors plans to make the 5,400nm journey to the territory using double-hulled traditional Maori canoes called waka hourua. The team’s goal is part of a larger effort by Polynesian cultural and academic groups to recover and revitalize the ancient navigational techniques of their ancestors.

However, the journey is also part of the group’s quest to travel the Polynesian triangle. New Zealand, where the group will begin their journey, comprises the southeast point of the triangle, while Easter Island represents the western side.

The Chilean government is on board with the seafarer’s project as well, thanks to the organizing efforts of the New Zeland Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. The sailors also enjoy the support of a variety of academics and anthropologists from across Chile.

The voyage to Rapanui is likely to take up to 10 weeks each way, with stop overs planned on the way up, in Raivavae and Mangareva and on the return trip in Tahiti and Raratonga. The crew will travel 100nautical miles per day on average. The chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa, the main patron of the voyage, is enthusiastic about the sailor’s upcoming expedition.

'This journey will be an immense source of pride for all New Zealanders and all people who are connected by the Pacific Ocean,' he said.

Busby’s second waka, Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti, sailed her maiden voyage in 2011. She was built to support Te Aurere with a view to ‘closing the Polynesian Triangle’ by completing the journey eastward to Rapanui (Easter Island). The voyage will reinforce the knowledge he has built up over the past 25 years so it can be passed on to aspiring voyagers throughout the Pacific.

There are no cabins or mod-cons on board the waka and the quest of finding a small island within such an expansive ocean is nothing short of challenging.

Before the waka hourua depart, Te Aurere will be consecrated to recognise the cultural and spiritual significance of the voyage. The waka will be made tapu (sacred) and a stringent set of cultural restrictions put in place for the journey to Rapanui.

The arrival back to New Zealand is expected to be in April 2013, following a layover to allow the cyclone season to pass.

About New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute:
The New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute was formally established in 1963. It is a self-funded charitable entity legislated under the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute Act (1963) with a mandate to protect, promote and perpetuate Maori cultural heritage.

Colligo Marine 660x82Zhik Yachting 660x82Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best Eyewear

Related Articles

Kids Polarised Sunglasses from Barz Optics
Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Each pair are supplied with a neoprene case and sunglass retainer.
Posted on 4 Aug
Reducing weight aloft with composite backstays
Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Every kilogram you take out of the rig is roughly equivalent to 4kg added to the bottom of your keel!
Posted on 26 Jul
Free $US3,000 Carbon Vang with SouthernFurl boom orders in July
Southern Spars is giving a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July Southern Spars is giving away a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with all of their SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July. Carbon gas vangs make a great addition to the furling boom package, though if you’d prefer to keep your existing one, Southern Spars will offer you a 5% discount on the price of your boom instead.
Posted on 29 Jun
Newport Bermuda Race - High Noon takes honours
As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, the powerful 100-foot grand prix Comanche, to the surprise of many they were led by an unusual boat and crew. High Noon, at 41 feet, is fully 59 feet shorter than Comanche and tens of feet shorter than many other entries.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to ban bottled water
Approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. The RQYS Management Committee has confirmed that approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. This will place the club as a leader in environmental impact management in Australia and around the world. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club earlier this year did likewise. Who’s next?
Posted on 16 Jun
SouthernFurl In-Boom furling systems withstand Sydney Hobart test
Southern Spars design team have developed the SouthernFurl Boom smaller budgets and yachts from 35-70 feet. Have you ever scared your family when you got stuck with too much sail up when you should be reefed? Southern Spars’ range of SouthernFurl booms are the answer – letting you reduce sail quickly and easily without leaving the safety of the cockpit.
Posted on 23 May
2016 Garda Trentino Olympic Week - Day 4
Garda Trentino Olympic Week 2016 draws near to the conclusion: the weather once again proves difficult. Garda Trentino Olympic Week 2016 draws near to the conclusion: the weather once again proves difficult. Tomorrow the medal race is scheduled for the Lasers and another two races for the three paralympic classes.
Posted on 13 May
CCA presents RCC Award to Scott and Mary Flanders
CCA has announced that Scott and Mary Flanders are the recipients of the organization’s 2015 Royal Cruising Club Trophy. The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has announced that Scott and Mary Flanders are the recipients of the organization’s 2015 Royal Cruising Club Trophy.
Posted on 22 Apr
Cyclone Winston Relief Fund – Help the people of Fiji
Sea Mercy is sending volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food and medical supplies to Fiji. Sea Mercy is once again sending our volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food, water and medical supplies and teams to Fiji.
Posted on 27 Feb