New crew member Nikau Hindin (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa) says, “Because there were fewer male crew members, much of the hard work was done by us women and sometimes we were the only workers, but it was awesome, we're lucky.”
“I really like it because it's like a whole family on the waka and everybody helps each other, has their back and everything,” says Tiffany Laitame of Tāhiti.
On the return voyage from Norfolk Island, 8 members of the 13-strong crew were women, including Bonnie Tamati as one of the two watch captains and traditional celestial navigator, Laitame.
It's the first time many of the crew have experienced deep-water voyaging, sailing over 800 nautical miles. Working in teams of two in six-hour shifts, the journey was a steep learning curve.
“So many lessons on this voyage...the main thing is to learn the ropes of the waka, to set the mainsail, the mizzen sail and the headsails,” says Nikau Hindin.
Founder of Te Toki Waka Hourua, Hoturoa Kerr says the most significant aspect of the voyage is connecting with the people of Norfolk Island, three of whom sailed back with the crew, including two females.
“Because they are getting in touch with the ancestral lineage that comes from their Tahitian mothers and ties them to Te Moana Nui a Kiwa,” says Kerr.
The Haunui waka crew are looking at making the training sail to Norfolk Island an annual event.