Auckland welcomes the traditional waka (canoes) on a worldwide voyage…

Aucklanders were treated to a rare sight this morning as six traditional vaka sailed into Waitemata Harbour.

The vaka – the Pacific Island‘s equivalent of the Maori waka – include two from the Hawaiian-based Polynesian Voyaging Society, which are on a Worldwide Voyage, covering 85 ports across 26 countries, to raise awareness about the environment and a sustainable world.

The other four – Auckland’s Haunui waka and three Pacific Island vakas – joined them to share their environment protection message.

Hundreds watched their arrival from Okahu Bay in Orakei.

Master navigator Tua Pittman said he was ecstatic to arrive.

“It’s absolutely fantastic. Tamaki Makaurau, they open up their arms to the voyagers from the pacific.”

By using traditional navigation, the crews hope to promote the importance of protecting the environment.

“It’s a message we are trying to create. To leave a better place for our grandchildren and their grandchildren,” says Bruce Blankenfeld from the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

The Worldwide Voyage will travel from port to port in New Zealand for six months before embarking on the next leg of their historic journey in mid-2015.

In conjunction with the New Zealand Maritime Museum, the Polynesian Voyaging Society will deliver educational programmes to promote and foster caring for the world’s ocean, which is seen as critical for the earth in the 21st century.

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