Two ocean-going waka have arrived in Northland a year into a four-year around-the world voyage.

The double-hulled waka - or va'a in Hawaiian - arrived at Opua on Tuesday morning after a 26-day trip from American Samoa.

The crews of the Hokole'a and the Hikianalia were welcomed later in the day at Aurere in Doubtless Bay, where master waka builder Hekenukumai Busby is building a traditional navigation school.

Tomorrow, they will be given a full formal welcome at Waitangi's Te Tii Marae which promises to be a spectacle on water and land. They are due to arrive between noon and 2pm with a powhiri starting at 2.30pm.


The vessels first arrived in the Bay of Islands at 9.30am on Tuesday and were towed to Opua Marina for Customs and biosecurity inspections.

The Hokole'a lost an anchor which was retrieved by a yacht crew and returned by the harbourmaster.

The waka are sailing 87,000km around the world on a Polynesian Voyaging Society journey, which is calling in to 85 ports in 26 countries.

The current leg of the journey started in Pago Pago on October 16.

They expect to return to Hawaii in 2017.

The watch captain on the Hokole'a as it arrived in Northland was a Kiwi, Nick Marr.

The Hokole'a first visited Aotearoa in 1985 on the Voyage of Rediscovery. That journey, captained by Hawaiian master navigator Nainoa Thompson, sparked a renaissance of Maori celestial navigation and waka building led by Mr Busby.

Since then Mr Busby's waka have sailed all three sides of the Polynesian triangle formed by Aotearoa, Hawaii and Rapanui (Easter Island).