Future proofing traditional voyaging

By Leah Te Whata
  • Auckland

Master navigator Jack Thatcher is paving the way for aspiring navigators in an effort to retain traditional voyaging knowledge. With his retirement in mind, he believes the future of sailing is in safe hands.

Traditional navigation is a rare skill and with plans to hang up his sail, Jack Thatcher believes the youth will steer waka hourua to the future.

Thatcher says, " As one sun sets, another rises, my sun's coming close to setting and the next generation will soon take the lead."

Mahina Busby and Nga Roma Gardiner are fifth generation sailors upon Ngahiraka-Mai-Tawhiti. She says voyaging is in the blood.

"To have it in your blood, we have this saying in this family it's the teacher's fault if you learn and you're never better than the teacher."

"It's carrying on the tradition of our tupuna"

The group of twelve youth is part of Thatcher's waka school, Te Kura o Ngā Kuri a Tarawhata. They're rigging up for a two-month sail, circumnavigating the North Island.

Captain Toiora Hawira says, "It's beautiful, everything from the protocols of Tangaroa, sailing and celestial navigation."

Thatcher says, "My heart is full, seeing all these young people wanting to carry on the traditions on the waka."

He plans on spending the next five years teaching waka and is confident the future is in good hands.