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Sails set for home after epic Pacific voyage

The Ahuriri-based Te Matau a Maui waka has set sail for the return home after a voyaging expedition around the Cook Islands – one of the crew already noting a change in the weather.

“Well this trip is gradually getting colder and we aren’t even halfway home,” Turoa Kohatu noted on Facebook, although the prospect of stepping ashore into mid-winter Hawke’s Bay after seven weeks of tropical sailing does not phase crewmate Neha Karaka. “It is very hot today, ” he wrote on Monday. “Hopefully we can park up sometime of the day and have a dip – looking forward to the storms and freezing weather – can’t wait to get home and see everyone.”

The Bay-based Te Matau a Maui waka is on the way home.

The Bay-based Te Matau a Maui waka is on the way home.

The waka set sail from Ahuriri on May 8 as part of a five-strong waka fleet, which headed for Rarotonga as part of the Cook Island celebrations of 50 years of self-governance.

As part of the celebrations, after arriving on May 22, the waka voyaged from Aitutaki and through the surrounding islands, and has now begun the voyage home.

Te Matau a Maui Voyaging Trust administrator Michelle Smith said the crew, who have been a mix of experienced ocean sailors and rookies, were making good progress and were in for favourable winds over the next three days – if a low weather system drifting east stayed clear.

There was no firm scheduled arrival date at this stage, as everything was dependant on the weather.

“They will firstly have to clear customs at the Napier Port before being welcomed back by our waka whanau and any of the community who wish to come, so we should be able to make sure it’s a sociable hour when the powhiri ceremony welcomes them back into the harbour at Ahuriri,” she said.

“People can stay tuned on our Facebook page for blogs and updates.”

For crew member Tanira Nepia, leaving Rarotonga was tough.

“It was emotionally hard for me and am sure the rest of the crew felt the same, bonding and making so many connections with the people of Rarotonga. For me, it was harder to leave Rarotonga than it was to leave home.”

He added though that he was looking forward to getting home.

By Roger Moroney, reposted from NZ Herald – Hawke’s Bay Today, July 2, 2015

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