11 Jun 2012

History-making nautical voyage almost called off

6:46 am on 11 June 2012

A 10,000 nautical mile waka voyage that will make history by retracing the journeys of Maori ancestors almost failed due to lack of money.

The Rapanui project involves two waka hourua (double hulled sailing canoes) and two dozen paddlers voyaging from New Zealand to Easter Island in August - the last leg of the Polynesian Triangle yet to be sailed.

However, the master carver who built the waka, Hekenukumai (Hector) Busby, says the project almost collapsed due to lack of funds.

He says the support from Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, Te Puia, in Rotorua helped keep the project afloat.

Institute director Karl Johnstone says Te Puia was more than happy to become a sponsor.

He says the Rapanui project is of national significance and hopes it will encourage young Maori to become involved in similar projects.