More than 120 people took part in a Voyaging Wānanga at the Copthorne in Waitangi during the weekend with three days of academic papers and wānanga culminating in a field trip on Sunday aboard the catamaran Te Maki.

During the cruise, which was also open to the public, academics, kaumatua and local experts offered commentary on sites significant to the first Māori in the Bay of Islands and later to the explorers Cook and Du Fresne.

Heritage NZ Northland manager Bill Edwards said focus of the wānanga was Polynesian voyaging but delegates also discussed the interactions of Cook and Māori, with research presented by geneticists, navigators, kaumatua, archaeologists, historians, private researchers and astronomers, among others.

It was striking that science, oral history and traditional knowledge were all saying the same thing about New Zealand's first human arrivals, Edwards said.

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''The speakers gave some pretty clear indications of how people got here, when people got here, and how they changed once they got here. It was a coming together of matauranga Māori and science, with each learning about the other."

The conference was coordinated by Heritage NZ archaeologist James Robinson and held under the auspices of the Arakite Charitable Trust, which earlier this year led a ground-breaking archaeological dig on Moturua Island in the Bay of Islands.

Keremihana Heke (Ngati Kuta/Patukeha) carries a carving named Uepoto, the mauri (life force) during an archaeological dig earlier this year on Moturua Island. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Keremihana Heke (Ngati Kuta/Patukeha) carries a carving named Uepoto, the mauri (life force) during an archaeological dig earlier this year on Moturua Island. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Skipper Paul Nicholson, left, discusses the day's plans with Heritage New Zealand Northland manager Bill Edwards and archaeologist James Robinson. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Skipper Paul Nicholson, left, discusses the day's plans with Heritage New Zealand Northland manager Bill Edwards and archaeologist James Robinson. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Arakite Trust chairman Matutaera Clendon (Ngati Kuta) gives a commentary about the islands which used to be his family's home. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Arakite Trust chairman Matutaera Clendon (Ngati Kuta) gives a commentary about the islands which used to be his family's home. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Passengers follow the vessel's progress on a chart from Captain Cook's time. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Passengers follow the vessel's progress on a chart from Captain Cook's time. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Mark Hei Hei (Takou Bay, left) and Keremihana Heke (Te Rawhiti) keep a steadying hand on Uepoto, mauri (life force) of the wananga. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Mark Hei Hei (Takou Bay, left) and Keremihana Heke (Te Rawhiti) keep a steadying hand on Uepoto, mauri (life force) of the wananga. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Lizana Tuake (Te Rawhiti) and daughter Jahneece Rewha at Hole in the Rock/Motukokako. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Lizana Tuake (Te Rawhiti) and daughter Jahneece Rewha at Hole in the Rock/Motukokako. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Heritage New Zealand senior Maori advisor Atareiria Hei Hei with husband Mark Hei Hei (Takou Bay) and Keremihana Heke (Te Rawhiti). Photo / Peter de Graaf
Heritage New Zealand senior Maori advisor Atareiria Hei Hei with husband Mark Hei Hei (Takou Bay) and Keremihana Heke (Te Rawhiti). Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kipa Munro (Ngati Rehia) tells a story as Cape Brett looms in the background. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kipa Munro (Ngati Rehia) tells a story as Cape Brett looms in the background. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Heritage New Zealand Northland archaeologist James Robinson discusses a point with Otago University anthropologist Lisa Matisoo-Smith, whose research involves using DNA to trace the movement of kiore, kumara, dogs, chickens and humans across the Pacific. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Heritage New Zealand Northland archaeologist James Robinson discusses a point with Otago University anthropologist Lisa Matisoo-Smith, whose research involves using DNA to trace the movement of kiore, kumara, dogs, chickens and humans across the Pacific. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Arakite Trust chairman Matutaera Clendon (Ngati Kuta) with Céline Bélitrand from France, in New Zealand to study bicultural health delivery. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Arakite Trust chairman Matutaera Clendon (Ngati Kuta) with Céline Bélitrand from France, in New Zealand to study bicultural health delivery. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Robert Willoughby (Ngati Kuta) and Kipa Munro (Ngati Rehia) at Mangahawea Bay, one of the earliest known human settlements in New Zealand. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Robert Willoughby (Ngati Kuta) and Kipa Munro (Ngati Rehia) at Mangahawea Bay, one of the earliest known human settlements in New Zealand. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Geologist Ross Ramsay (Kerikeri) and Diane Henare (Haruru Falls) at Mangahawea Bay, one of the earliest known human settlements in New Zealand. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Geologist Ross Ramsay (Kerikeri) and Diane Henare (Haruru Falls) at Mangahawea Bay, one of the earliest known human settlements in New Zealand. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Mark Hei Hei (left), Kipa Munro and marine biologist John Booth discuss the Bay's historic landmarks. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Mark Hei Hei (left), Kipa Munro and marine biologist John Booth discuss the Bay's historic landmarks. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kiwi North curator Georgia Kerby (Whangarei) and archaeologist Bill Guthrie (Parapara). Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kiwi North curator Georgia Kerby (Whangarei) and archaeologist Bill Guthrie (Parapara). Photo / Peter de Graaf
Auckland University Associate Professor Manuka Henare (Haruru Falls) offers an expert commentary. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Auckland University Associate Professor Manuka Henare (Haruru Falls) offers an expert commentary. Photo / Peter de Graaf