KUPE: VOYAGING BY THE STARS

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Ngā Mihi

Ki te wāhi ngaro...ki te mokopuna ā te motu kia Te Atairangikāhu me te Kāhui Āriki, Te Kauhanga Marae me te iwi o Ngāti Kahu, he mihi whānui tonu ki ngā tuakana ō Te Moana nui ā Kiwa.

“Haere ki Hawaiki nui, Hawaiki roa, Hawaiki pamamao...
Te hono ki Wairua.”

Hekenukumai (Hector) Busby rediscovers ancient star navigation traditions during an 1,800 mile ocean voyage in his traditional double-hulled waka, Te Aurere, retracing the path of early explorer Kupe a thousand years earlier across the Pacific Ocean to Aotearoa.

First, Hekenukumai makes a pilgrimage to Taputapuātea Marae on the island of Ra’iatea, just north of Tahiti, regarded as the spiritual centre of Polynesia. It was from here that Kupe left for Rarotonga and then on to Aotearoa.

Hekenukumai then returns to Aotearoa to build his waka. Two giant Kauri trees are felled in the Herekino Forest, Northland in August 1990; left to dry for a few months; then hauled to Aurere Beach near Taipa - Hekenukumai’s home.

The double-hulled waka Te Aurere, named from the beach on which it was built was the third waka for Hekenukumai - the first two being single hulled waka taua. The design of Te Aurere is based on the Hokule’a from Hawaii, whose skipper Naenoa Thompson and his star navigator teacher, Mau Piailug both assist with designing and building the waka.

One of greatest achievements of Pacific Islanders was the building and sailing of ocean-going canoes, or vaka. Under the command of chiefs and navigational priests, early Pacific seafarers undertook long oceanic voyages of discovery and settlement in their canoes. They developed advanced skills in canoe design and construction, and navigated by reading the stars, winds and currents, making landfall without the aid of compass, sextant or chart. The 6th Festival, held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands from 16–27 October 1992, celebrated the achievements of Pacific Islanders as great ocean voyagers. It attracted over 1800 participants from 23 Pacific Island Countries and Territories.

A highlight of the Festival was the presence of vaka from Tahiti, Marshall Islands, Hawaii, New Zealand, Atiu, Aitutaki, Mangaia, Mauke and Rarotonga. Some of these craft sailed thousands of miles from their home islands to Rarotonga, ceremoniously paying tribute to the ancestors of all Cook Islanders, who centuries before had journeyed out from Rarotonga in search of new lands. They also symbolised the spirit of seafaring Pacific Islanders and the ancient navigators of Polynesia. Each vaka crew landed with a sacred stone —some as small as a coconut, others virtual boulders— which were brought to Rarotonga to represent the land and home islands of the seafarers who had made the journey. The sacred stones were placed together in a special site to commemorate the historic gathering.

Two days before the Festival began Sir Geoffrey Henry, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, officially opened a new National Cultural Centre on Rarotonga, which echoed the festival theme. A wood carving representing the spirit of the navigator Te Manava Rangatira faces the entranceway to the Centre, while the Cultural Centre buildings themselves are arranged as a vaka with outriggers. An official visit to the Cook Islands by His Royal Highness the Prince Edward of Great Britain was arranged to coincide with the festival. A moment of Cook Islands history was made when for the first time two Cook Island women, Dorice Reid Te Tika Mataiapo and Akaiti Ama Tamarua Nui Mataiapo, performed the turou or welcome ceremony for the Prince. This ceremony was formerly the preserve of men.

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Year 1993

Reference number F5371

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image

Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Short

Duration 0:50:00

Production company Nimrod Film Productions

Taonga Māori Collection Yes

Credits Director: Peter Turei
Producer: Ian John
Camera: Mike Hardcastle
Editor: Tim Woodhouse
Script: Norelle Scott
Narration: Glynnis Paraha
Music: Dean Hapeta
Sound: Don Mathewson
Additional Sound: Graham Morris
Additional Sound: Stephen Buckland
Sound Mix: Michael Hedges
Translations: Waihoroi Shortland (Ngā Puhi - Ngāti Hineamaru)
Assistant Editor: Natasha Clarke
Funding: New Zealand Film Commission
Made With The Assistance Of: NZ On Air
Made With The Assistance Of: Television New Zealand