The sight of three ocean-going rigged waka heading out on to the Pacific Ocean will be an unexpected bonus for hundreds of Art Deco week visitors in Napier at about noon today.

Locally-based Te Matau a Maui has been joined by the Samoan Voyaging Society's Va'a Gaualofa and Te Toki Voyaging Trust's Haunui, which arrived yesterday.

With a farewell planned for 9am today at the waka mooring beside West Quay, all three, with crew totalling 42 and including 16 on Te Waka a Maui, are expected to sail about midday for the New Zealand Festival highlight A Waka Odyssey in Wellington.

There is an expected test along the way, but it should be plain sailing for some of the modern-day mariners who have voyaged hundreds of thousands of kilometres over recent years retracing the steps of intrepid ancestors across the oceans.


Te Matau a Maui captain Raihania Tipoki said conditions to Wellington (Whanganui a Tara) were expected to deteriorate around Cape Palliser, and it was likely the craft would have to anchor for a day, probably off White Rock, to the north of the Cape.

Conservation and environment issues are paramount in the waka projects — the three having been among the seven-strong Te Mana o Te Moana fleet which voyaged across the Pacific in 2011-2012. Te Matau a Maui will sail from Wellington to the Chathams on a ocean microplastics data collection mission, amid calculations that plastic discarded into the sea around the world in the next five years could be as much as ever before.

Nets will be used to collect plastic in a project stemming from a United Nations Oceans conference last year.