13 Apr 2011

Auckland farewells traditional canoes bound for Hawaii

3:09 pm on 13 April 2011

A farewell ceremony has been held in New Zealand for the Polynesian vaka fleet taking part in an voyage across the Pacific.

The five traditional vakas, or double-hulled canoes, have been undergoing modifications in Auckland, before the fleet is due to depart on Friday.

The Fiji crew are on board their vaka named Uto ni Yalo, which translates to mean 'the heart of the spirit'.

Lautoka skipper Jonathan Smith says it will be sustainable living for the 16 crew members on board, ranging from ages 17 to 60.

"Like in the old days, they fished for what they needed. They didn't overexploit. They didn't have plastic bags. The ocean was much more cleaner. So more or less do what the old people did way back, was respect nature, live with nature, don't fight nature and nature will look after us. And that's practically what this is all about."

Jonathan Smith says this voyage is also an opportunity to bring back tradition and culture.

All crews will use a mixture of ancient and modern seafaring skills to navigate their way across the Pacific, with the first leg of the journey ending in Hawaii.