18 Apr 2010

Seagoing vaka leave Auckland on conservation mission

5:03 pm on 18 April 2010

A flotilla of traditional double-hulled voyaging vaka or canoes has left Auckland to sail to five Pacific island countries to draw attention to conservation issues in the region.

The vaka sailed after a blessing and will visit French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

The journey to the first destination, French Polynesia, is expected to take up to a month.

The vaka hulls are constructed from fiberglass but use traditional designs, said to be thousands of years old, that are lashed together with wood and coconut fibre.

The captain of the New Zealand vaka Magnus Danbolt says the fleet will head east past Coromandel for as long as the winds hold then veer north.

He says the weather is perfect for the next few days but cautioned all the crews they would have to be vigilant and look out for each other.