Waka ready for its return voyage home

By Roger Moroney

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The waka crew during a karakia just before Te Waka Te Matau a Maui left Napier's West Quay for the Chatham Islands. Photo/Paul Taylor
The waka crew during a karakia just before Te Waka Te Matau a Maui left Napier's West Quay for the Chatham Islands. Photo/Paul Taylor

The 15 crew of the Te Matau a Maui Voyaging Trust's waka have been enjoying the dry land of the Chatham Islands for the past four days and are expected to arrive back at the Ahuriri mooring on Anzac Day.

The waka set sail last Tuesday for the first of what will be an annual voyage to the Chatham Islands to give young people experience in the traditional ways of sailing as well as create closer ties with the islands.

Skippered by Tawhana Chadwick from Kohupatiki, the waka made good time over the 424 nautical mile stretch despite easterly-driven winds and belts of rain.

"They had a good trip over and by the look of the weather at this stage it will be a good trip home," Pacific Voyagers Trust's general manager of operations Magnus Danbolt said.

"It is one of seven identical waka which have sailed the seas for some years now - they are very much up to it," he said of the possibility of poor weather conditions or high seas.

The waka docked at the Chathams last Friday and was welcomed by locals.

One of the 15 crew was a young Chatham Islander who had been delighted to make a return visit to his home the traditional way. The return voyage will be skippered by Wairoa man Rahania Tepuke.

Mr Danbolt said the waka had been due to set sail late yesterday although the exact time of its arrival back at Ahuriri would be weather dependent.

The crew made the journey across using traditional stars, moon and sea current readings. About a quarter of those aboard, aged between 18 and 50 and including three women, were inexperienced at open sea sailing and had wanted to gain experience.

The waka's navigator, Piripi Smith, said as well as future voyages to the Chathams the waka would journey on educational adventure voyages up and down the eastern coastline.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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