17 Aug 2012

Two waka set sail for Easter Island

10:02 pm on 17 August 2012

About 500 friends and family lined Auckland's Viaduct basin to farewell the crew members of two waka sailing to Rapanui (Easter Island).

The two waka left on Friday to start the journey using traditional means of navigation, such as the stars and sun, in the style of the Maori voyagers who sailed to Aotearoa.

One of the crew members, Regan Fairlie, says he's nervous about the voyage but is looking forward to passing on his knowledge when he returns.

Traditional navigator Hekenukumai (Hector) Busby, 80, says the voyage by the two waka he built are completing the final stage of his quest to sail to all the major islands in the Pacific triangle, to retrace his ancestors' journeys.

Health problems are preventing him from travelling on this voyage.

Skipper and head navigator Jack Thatcher says the 17-metre waka are being steered using large paddles while the wind fills their sails.

The 10,000 nautical mile return journey will take about five months.