National | Education

Emerging navigators learn ancient art of way-finding

24 emerging Maori and Pacific voyagers have been selected to sail on board Haunui Waka to Norfolk Island in September 2018. The voyage provides deep-sea training ahead of a pan-Pacific voyage to the Festival of Pacific Arts in Hawaii in 2020.

Ask the Te Toki Waka Hourua crew about deep-sea voyaging and they'll say it all begins on land.

Crew member Pera Waaka (Tuhoe) says, "Our main job is to look after the vessel and the vessel will look after us."

Senior crew member Kereama Mcleod (Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Te Āti Awa) elaborates, "Maintenance is a key foundation for our crew, moving on from that then we can start pushing our crew into learning things about navigation, sailing and way-finding."

It will cost over $70,000 to prepare and supply the vessel, to book flights to and from Norfolk to enable a crew swap over and provide workshops to schools and community in Norfolk Island. So far, they've raised over $15,000 in donations and support.

Crew member Marama Beamish (Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki) says, "When it's us actually trying to train and develop our skillset, that's where we have to fundraise. It's awesome that our whole crew and extended whānau were just like yep we'll get behind you and make that possible for you guys, that's what's awesome."

Kereama Mcleod says the 24 crew members maintain a balance of experienced way-finders with those who are new to deep-sea navigation, as well as a gender balance that represents the masculine and female elements of the vessel.

Mcleod explains, "The main mast represents the main element on our waka, our driving force, and the mizzen mast that represents our guidance, it represents the female element of our waka."

During the 3-4 week return voyage to Norfolk Island, the crew will be using only the natural world as a guide, in lead up to a voyage to Hawaii in 2020.

Beamish says, "That will be a massive haerenga (journey) in 2020, it'll probably last a year all up with different legs and crew rotating through, so we just need to upskill in all areas really."

Pera Waaka is just 18 years of age and has sailed around Aotearoa for the last six years, but this will be her first deep-sea voyage.

"We will learn about the winds, the ocean, the sun, the moon and the stars," says Waaka.

Haunui waka will depart Tāmaki in mid-September.