Pacific voyager finds new haven in Bay

By Lawrence Gullery

Ahuriri will be the permanent home to a well travelled sailing vessel which has just completed a 140,000 nautical mile return journey across the Pacific using just the stars as its navigational chart.

The waka hourua, double-hull vessel, called Te Matau A Maui, is due to arrive in Hawke Bay at the end of next week marking the completion of an 18-month voyage involving a fleet of seven waka sailing from New Zealand to the west coast of America.

Each waka represented a Pacific nation and together the fleet called themselves the "Pacific Voyagers". Their mission was to raise awareness of the environmental health of the Pacific Ocean.

The Ngati Kahungunu Iwi waka hourua committee chairperson Jenny Mauger said the long-term goal was to base the waka in Ahuriri so it can be used in a variety of programmes for everyone in Hawke's Bay.

A wananga or workshop will be held in the New Year for people interested in being involved.

"The general concept is for the waka to become the spirit of Hawke's Bay," Ms Mauger said. "Its name Te Matau A Maui is also the Maori name for Hawke's Bay and the name of a demi-god of the Pacific, which ties it in with all of the Pacific nations."

The waka could offer a range of initiatives for the public to be involved in. It may include a programme to teach young people sailing skills and especially traditional celestial navigation, which was used by the original pacific voyagers who arrived in New Zealand over 500 years ago.

Previous ideas had included initiatives around tourism and other educational programmes involving all schools from around the region.

"We need to bring together the sailing whanau and the onshore whanau, to make sure the waka is looked after, is used well and kept financially independent.

"We also need to make sure we are keeping up the skill base of people to make sure the waka can continue to take up other voyages in the future."

Ms Mauger was among 14 crew members onboard Te Matau A Maui during a leg of its pacific voyage, from Auckland to Fakarava (French Polynesia) from April 2011.

"In modern times we've probably never seen so many waka voyaging at one time. It's worth mentioning another waka called Te Aurere [Northland] and its sister waka Ngahere Mai Tawhiti have arrived from Rapanui [Easter Island].

"People from Hawaii are also departing on a global voyage over the next year, and their mission is to spread the message of peace by visiting and speaking to children in each country."

There will be a powhiri at Ahuriri when Te Matau A Maui arrives next week. Those expected to be onboard included skipper Frank Kawe, who had been on the vessel during the entire journey, along with Hawke's Bay man Tawhana Chadwick.

"The main navigator to the Rapanui leg of the journey was Piripi Smith who is from Matahiwi in Clive.

"So we have got some really skilled people among the crew and we need their direction to be part of this project."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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