Pacific voyaging culture connects Tahiti to Aotearoa

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Paying homage to the voyaging legacies of Sir Hekenukumai Busby and Tahitian navigator Tupaia, Tahitian Voyaging Society double-hull vessel Fa'afaite is making it's way to Aotearoa for the Tuia250 commemorations.

Navigating Fa'afaite is Moeata Galenon, who says, “Navigation is like being in the mind of, in the way of, in the place of our ancestors, being in their environment because they have this gift of observing, an acute sense of observing.”

The Fa'afaite crew will voyage to Aotearoa using traditional navigation methods practiced by Maohi and Māori.

Moeata Galenon says, “They know what this wind means they know what this sky means, what this cloud means or what this ripple means. and it makes you just understand that you're just part of this whole thing you're not separate you're just like every living thing that's around you.”

Co-Chair Tuia 250, Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr says, “It ties them to us in Aotearoa, it's about presenting our narratives of our ancestors who navigated these seas, and in doing so Fa'afaite is binding us to this island to Tahiti.”


The crew are in-effect tracing the voyage taken by Tahitian navigator Tupaia who is credited with guiding the Endeavour to Aotearoa.

Fa'afaite crewman Titaua Teipoarii, “I ask all the old people of my island what they think about sailing on the small canoe, they say oh you should go because that's your ancestor.”

Bruce Shepherd, NZ Consul to French Polynesia says, “And the commemoration of 250 years of Tupaia taking Captain Cook through to Aotearoa is not only an amazing event but an amazing achievement.”

The crew is bringing with them a 'mauri' stone that will be delivered to the home of the late Sir Hekenukumai Busby who was instrumental in the voyaging revival.

Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr says, “That well-known figure throughout the Pacific for building double-hull vessels, for supporting all voyaging initiatives around the Pacific.”

“Using those old methods, it shows that our people around the pacific have not lost those skills”, says Shepard.

Fa'afaite will be joined by two other waka haurua in Aotearoa, and officially welcomed in Tūranga on 5th October as part of the Tuia250 commemorations.