by Mike Barrington and Tony Gee
The double-hulled voyaging canoe Te Aurere left Doubtless Bay at 7.30am yesterday to begin its fourth circumnavigation of the North Island.
Ten crew were on board the 17.4m-long vessel, skippered by waka rangatira Hekenukumai Busby, as it set off toward Cape Reinga on the 10-week voyage.
Built by Mr Busby at his home at Te Aurere, north of Taipa, in 1991, the waka hourua is scheduled to visit a dozen marae around the island to hold wananga (learning seminars) on kaupapa waka and recruit men and women as future crew members.
The first wananga will be at Kokohuia Marae at Opononi in the Hokianga Harbour, where the waka is expected to arrive on the 9am high tide tomorrow.
After a couple of days, Te Aurere will sail for the Manukau Harbour, where it is expected to arrive about Monday for wananga at Te Manukanuka o Hoturoa Marae at Auckland Airport. The next stops will be at Kawhia, Waitara, Wanganui and Porirua, where the crew will leave the waka to return to the North for Christmas and New Year.
When the voyage resumes in January, Stanley Conrad will take command as Te Aurere calls in to Wellington, Napier, Gisborne, Waihau Bay on the East Coast and Tauranga before arriving at Waitangi for the commemoration of the 169th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on February 6.
The waka, constructed from two Herekino Forest kauri, made its maiden voyage to Rarotonga in 1992 and has since sailed to Hawaii, Tahiti, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island.
The Te Aurere has two masts and can make up to 12 knots in a good wind. The crew navigate by traditional methods using the stars, winds, wave patterns and birds, but the waka carries modern safety equipment.
There is a GPS tracker on board so the progress of voyages can be followed on the waka's website at www.teaurere.org.nz