19 Sep 2012

Waka Tapu crew use traditional knowledge to navigate

7:49 pm on 19 September 2012

A traditional Maori navigator says his crew is being lead by the forces of nature as they sail across the South Pacific Ocean retracing the ancient voyages of their tupuna (ancestors).

The Waka Tapu expedition is about to make its first stop on its journey to Rapanui or Easter Island, and is about three or four days away from Tubuai in the Austral Islands.

Two doubled hulled Maori sailing canoes left Auckland last month to make a return journey to Rapanui on their last leg of the Polynesian triangle.

Lead navigator Jack Thatcher says without GPS equipment most of the time they have to literally throw caution to the wind.

He says they use the environment as much as they can by observing the sun, the moon and the stars to find a direction, and then use the swells and wind to maintain their course, and what ever clues they can get.

Mr Thatcher says they are using the same knowledge that has been passed down through the generations to sail the Pacific Ocean.