Te Aurere - Waka Hourua


Hobart, Australia

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Te Aurere at the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum opposite Princes Wharf, Auckland, taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH1 point & shoot on 17 July 2011.

Arawai Ltd started a “sailing with the ancestors” experience on its traditional waka hourua / double-hull Māori canoe Te Aurere at the end of 2010.

Sailing Te Aurere is a unique cultural experience that gives passengers the chance to learn more about New Zealand’s indigenous Māori people, the history of migration to New Zealand, traditional methods of navigation and waka design – as well as offering hands-on experience with the opportunity to steer the boat and trim sails.

There are six berths in the hulls of the waka as well as several hammocks on deck.

Te Aurere made her maiden voyage to Rarotonga in 1992, and since then has sailed across the Pacific to Hawaii, Tahiti, Marquesas, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island. The waka has also circumnavigated the North Island a number of times.

Traditional kauri construction
The 17.4m / 57ft long by 5.5m / 18ft wide boat was built in 1991 along traditional lines and carved out of two giant kauri trees. No bolts or nails were used in construction, and the waka is lashed together in the ancient style.

Te Aurere was built by Hekenukumai (Hector) Ngaiwi Puhipi Busby who is recognised in the Pacific as one of the leading master carvers of traditional waka.

Between six and 12 crew, including the captain and navigator, are required to sail Te Aurere and in-keeping with tradition, there are no winches or other mechanical aids – rigging is a combination of skill and brute force.

The boat is sailed using celestial navigation – a key part of traditional wayfinding used by the ancient Polynesians to populate the Pacific. Wayfinding uses the stars, sun, wave action, ocean currents, wind and birds to make the long passages across the Pacific Ocean.

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