Today I went with my beloved and our youngest to view the Waka (Maori word for canoe or sailing vessel/s) that are berthed at Maraetai beach having heard the news over the weekend that they would be arriving whilst staying at the local marae during the weekend with my colleagues and our classes.

There are several ships and waka (traditional ocean-going vessels) that are a part of the commemorations of Tuia 250 as they sail around the various ports of New Zealand following Captain Cook’s original voyages.

It’s a three month journey that’s been sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage that started in September and ends in December. It’s been one of the topics that my Rangahau class (Indigenous Research) has been following and discussing because of the difficult nature around the history of deep-sea ocean voyaging.

In that, as commemorations signal the 250 years of the first European contact with NZ through a Tahitian Master navigator Tupaia assisting Captain Cook to successfully navigate to NZ in 1769 and entering 12 ports, Pasifika voyaging had already been underway perhaps over a thousand years already. 

Unfortunately, Tupuaia never made it back to his homeland of Tahiti and died in Indonesia of scurvy like symptoms and Captain Cook took all the credit. As a youngster, I was taught that Captain Cook had discovered NZ but now I know that it was Tupaia who was the true master navigator and that Captain Cook had discovered nothing as Maori had already inhabited NZ for hundreds of years prior.

The importance of taking our youngest to see the traditional sailing vessels was for her to understand and learn about the true NZ history, (which by the way will become compulsory to learn in schools from 2022) to witness and learn about the amazing feat/s that our distant ancestors would have known about in circumnavigating the Pacific ocean using traditional large double-hulled va’a (Samoan word for vaka). 

When we arrived we were able to witness four of the waka still onshore and sailing tomorrow to the Auckland Viaduct but the most amazing thing was that when we asked to go aboard one of the waka, the kapetane Dale (Samoan word for captain) pictured here introduced himself as one of my past high school students of some 30 years ago and gave me a big hug to my absolute surprise.

Dale had become interested after a Samoan friend had introduced him to yachting and then he joined the renaissance International Pasifika Navigation movement and is now fulltime sailing having sailed to Tahiti to assist the Tahitian waka ‘Fa’afeite’ to join the flotilla in NZ.

It was an absolute delight to catch up Dale and I loved listening to his journeys with lots of questions for him to answer. Hoping to take our older teenagers to view the boats on the weekend at the Viaduct to see more of the waka and to learn more about our distant deep-sea voyaging past!…