14 Nov 2014

Hawaiian waka crew to visit South Island

7:01 pm on 14 November 2014

The crew of two double-hulled voyaging canoes from Hawaii will be officially welcomed with a pōwhiri on to Te Tii Marae near Waitangi tomorrow and are planning their first visit to the South Island.

The Hokule'a is on its final leg of the Malama Honua World-Wide Voyage.

The Hōkūle'a is on its final leg of the Malama Honua World-Wide Voyage. Photo: Hokule'a Crew / Facebook

The Hōkūle'a and Hikianalia set sail from Pago Pago in American Sāmoa over a month ago using traditional Polynesian navigation and celestial techniques.

The canoes arrived in the Bay of Islands on Tuesday and are in New Zealand to promote their environmental protection message.

Hawaiian master navigator Nainoa Thompson believes it is a really important time for Pacific people to come together to talk about how the moana and the globe needs to be looked after.

The waka crews have been sailing hard over a total distance of about 7000 nautical miles and now they reached Aotearoa they need to take a break, he says.

The waka would be based in New Zealand over summer as the cyclone season is approaching and it will be too dangerous to venture north.

Mr Thompson says over the next few months there are plans to sail the Hōkūle'a to the South Island for the first time, but calling in to Auckland along the way early next month.

He says his crew looks forward to spending time with the Māori master waka builder Hekenukumai Busby and his wānanga which teaches the art of waka building and tradition maritime and celestial navigation knowledge.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs