Waka haurua crew members 'jump ship' to Endeavour

By D'Angelo Martin
(L-R) Turoa Kohatu and Tony Masters from Haunui waka haurua joined the crew of the Endeavour for the Auckland to Whangārei leg. Photo/File

During the Tuia 250 leg from Auckland to Whangārei, members of the waka haurua fleet jumped ship to the Endeavour. 

Turoa Kohatu (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) and Tony Masters (Aitutaki) are two members of the Haunui waka haurua who were able to sail on the Endeavour.

It was a learning curve for them but the main purpose of the journey was the same as the waka haurua. 

Kohatu says, "I was missing the waka haurua just a bit. I'd get sad when I'd see them because I was already on the Endeavour, only because it's my first time on a boat like this so I was scared."

There were obvious differences between the two vessels. 

"Their terms of navigating, they've got a lot of instruments that they use which I'm not really quite used to," Masters says. "When you look for a mark on the waka you use your hoe (paddle) to steer for your mark but on here you've got these compasses that you use."

Although the Endeavour and the waka haurua may have differences, being able to discuss, share and learn are what was important for these two.

"It's kind of hard to describe the feelings you get when you're out on the ocean. Like for me, when I'm on the waka the waka speaks to you and you've got to feel the waka. On the Endeavour it speaks a different language," Kohatu says.

"Looking at the Endeavour all my life, looking at the 50 cent coin, you know growing up you always wondered 'what was this waka?' And then as you get older, you start to find out what it truly was," Masters says.

Kohatu says, "There are some ups with this waka and some downs, but I mean every waka is different and I guess you have to come on board with an open mind and just be ready to adapt." 

Masters is a descendant of Tupaea, the great navigator from Tahiti who helped Captain Cook navigate in the 1700s. He says joining the crew of the Endeavour paid homage to his ancestor.

"I just felt like a bit of a Tupaea on the waka, feeling that experience, what was Tupaea feeling you know when he was on the waka?"

The two men hope their experience allows others sailing on the waka haurua to also have an opportunity to sail on the Endeavour.