Sailing canoes on last leg of epic journey

By Peter de Graaf

Two Northland-built voyaging waka on their way to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) have now passed Pitcairn Island, the most remote inhabited island in the Pacific.

That means the two double-hulled waka have covered about one-quarter of the final leg of their journey, which began at Mangareva in French Polynesia on November 7.

Hekenukumai Busby built the waka Te Aurere and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti at his workshop in Doubtless Bay. They left Auckland in August in a bid to reach the easternmost point of the Polynesian triangle using only wind and traditional navigation techniques.

The New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua and Northland's Te Taitokerau Tarai Waka organised the journey, which is called Waka Tapu.

The two crews have only made landfall twice, at Tubuai in the Austral Islands and Mangareva, to rest, repair their waka and replenish their supplies.

Popular crew member Brian "Papa" Wiki was forced to leave Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti at Mangareva and return early to Kaitaia.

Go to and click on "Waka Tracker" to follow the journey across the Pacific.

- Northern Advocate

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