For more than 20 days and 20 nights, a team has been staring at the stars navigating their way home - and today they moored in Tauranga.
The traditional double-hulled sailing canoe, Fa'afaite, arrived safe and sound in Tauranga Harbour after leaving Tahiti on August 20 and crossing the Pacific using traditional navigation.
The journey had been a tremendous effort by the entire crew, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Tumu Whakarae chief executive Bernadette Cavanagh said.
"Not only have these voyagers just completed an almost month-long journey across Te Moananui a Kiwa, the Pacific Ocean, guided by the position of the stars, moon and sun as well as other signs in nature like swells and winds, but the crew spent months preparing for this."
"It's an honour to have the Fa'afaite crew participate in the Tuia 250 Voyage around Aotearoa New Zealand from October to December this year."
With the mana of their tupuna, Tupaia, who represented the skill and knowledge of Pacific voyagers and was pivotal in communicating with tangata whenua during the first onshore encounters with Pākehā in 1769, the crews made it across the Pacific Ocean safely.
"The Tuia 250 national commemoration highlights the stories of Tupaia which have often been overshadowed in our history by the feats of James Cook," Cavanagh said.
"Next month we welcome a delegation of more than 300 people from Tahiti, many of whom have undertaken significant fundraising to attend the Tuia 250 events happening around New Zealand," she said.
Tuia 250 Voyage Flotilla kaitiaki and local Jack Thatcher said the journey of Fa'afaite proved the extraordinary capability and courage of Pacific voyagers who found and settled Aotearoa many generations ago.
Thatcher was responsible for receiving daily reports from the crew as the vessel sailed 4300km across open ocean.
"The crew have done an amazing job, holding their course accurately and expertly, whilst Tawhirimatea and Tangaroa challenged them unceasingly once they came into the Southern Pacific Ocean.
"The strong winds, cloudy, rainy days and nights constantly assailing them would have been daunting even under normal circumstances," he said.
"Moeata and Titaua, however, were navigating traditionally without instruments much like how their tūpuna, ancestors, would have done. They were constantly searching for the signs in their ocean environment that enabled them to pull their fish from the sea just like Maui did."
The voyage was a first for Moeata Galenon and Titaua Teipoarii as trainee navigators, supported by Ngāti Kahungunu Pwo navigator Piripi Smith, after months of preparation.
The voyage was also captained by 26-year-old India Tabellini, the first time she has had this senior role on such a substantial journey.