Fa'afaite keep ocean voyaging traditions alive

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The double-hulled sailing canoe Fa'afaite is in Aotearoa for Tuia 250, after crossing the Pacific using traditional navigation. Our reporter Te Kuru Dewes caught up with the crew ahead of their next leg.

Skipper for the voyage, India Tabellini says, “It's a good inspiration, today everything is so easy, yeah? But you think back, and you say, 'oh my goodness'. Maybe just have to have a little bit of this mindset, and it's helpful in life. So I think this is what I take from the past.”

Travelling 4300km, they navigated by the wind and tides, the rising sun, the setting moon and the stars.

“I think it was a need to sail, to find new lands and I think that our tūpuna had a lot of problem-solving skills. And so they had a problem, a question and they had to find an answer, so they used whatever was around them to find the answer they were looking for,” says Tabellini.

Without the guidance of Western instruments, the double-hulled canoe sailed from Tahiti to Rarotonga, past Rangitahua and finally to Tauranga.

For skipper Tabellini, it was her first time sailing from Tahiti to Aotearoa.

“I find it like big pressure, but I was very held by the fact that our crew is very good. So I didn’t have to growl, everybody was just trying to do the best of what they could do. It was actually smooth, it could have been a lot worse.

The crew are following in the wake of their ancestors, who circumnavigated the Pacific Ocean and journeyed to Aotearoa 1200 years ago.

“Just a lot of respect for what they did and, even if we probably we never know all the people who did, because history didn't record all of them. But whoever we know, we have to acknowledge them and respect what they did,” she says.

After one month at sea, they now join Haunui waka and Ngahiraka waka for the Tuia 250 Voyage.

Tabellini says, “I think the kaupapa is good and we all believe in it and we try bring whatever we can bring positive to the kaupapa from our island. And it's awesome too, also for life experiences and growth, personal and collective. It's just a good thing to grow into.”

The waka will head to Whangaparaoa over the next week.