A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Peter Fogg
Date: 2010 Apr 19, 15:35 +1000
WELLINGTON: Nearly 1000 years after the last of the great Polynesian migration journeys across the Pacific, a group of descendants have set sail in a fleet of replica canoes to relive the voyages.
Four double-hulled canoes with crews of up to 16 people left Auckland yesterday to sail 4000 kilometres to the French Polynesian island of Raiatea.
Raiatea is believed to have been the departure point for the last great Polynesian migrations to New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island between 700 and 1000 years ago.
The crews - from New Zealand, Fiji and the Cook Islands, and a multinational one from Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga - expect that the voyage will take 20 to 25 days.
They will then be joined by a Tahitian crew for a voyage of 1200 kilometres to the Cook Islands before returning to their home ports.
''It will be the first time since the great migration that a fleet of canoes has sailed from Raiatea to Rarotonga [in the Cook Islands] on that sacred route down to New Zealand,'' said Te Aturangi Nepia-Clamp, the acting president of the Cook Islands Voyaging Society.
With strong winds and clear skies, the captain of the New Zealand canoe, Magnus Danbolt, told Radio New Zealand that the weather would be perfect for the next few days but the crews would have to be vigilant and look out for each other.
The 22-metre, twin-masted canoes were built over the past year.