Seaweek Royal Society Lecture
Date: Tuesday 1 March 2016, 7:30pm
Venue: National Aquarium of New Zealand, Marine Parade Napier
Admission: Gold coin donation
Piripi Smith, Maori navigator and Chairman of the Te Matau a Māui Voyaging Trust
For thousands of years, Austronesian navigators (Tohunga) piloted primitive, double-hulled sailing ships called “waka” across vast stretches of the Pacific and Indian Ocean. These highly-trained sailors traveled across hundreds or thousands of kilometers discovering uninhabited islands, creating new colonies, and developing trade networks. What’s hard to believe is that these navigators traversed these great distances using no technology or maps, but instead relying on tuning into the stars, winds and Mother Nature.
Up until modern times, these traditional sailing methods had been preserved by Polynesian peoples. There has been a recent revival of this method of transport, and to prove to the skeptics that the accuracy of guiding “waka” does not rely on luck, a new generation of navigators continues to sail between distant islands with no maps, compasses or GPS systems.
One group in New Zealand that prioritizes the preservation of this tradition is Te Matau a Māui Voyaging Trust, which manages a program called Waka Experience. The organization is led by Chairman Piripi Smith, who is an experienced Maori navigator.
Come hear about the local waka, Te Matau a Maui, and traditional navigator Piripi Smith talk about their Pacific voyages.
Please direct any enquiries to HBBranchRSNZ@gmail.com