Traditional canoes complete NZ to Easter Island expedition

Traditional canoes complete NZ to Easter Island expedition

Traditional canoes complete NZ to Easter Island expedition

Updated 7 December 2012, 23:10 AEST

Two double-hulled canoes have arrived on Easter Island after a three-month journey from New Zealand using only traditional navigation techniques.

Two double-hulled canoes have arrived on Easter Island after a three-month journey from New Zealand using only traditional navigation techniques.

The expedition, named Waka Tapu, or Sacred Canoe, left Auckland in September and covered over 10,000 nautical miles on waka hourua, or two traditional sailing canoes - Te Aurere and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti.

Karl Johnstone, Director of the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, was in Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, for the arrival.

"Everybody's feeling very elated - it's been a long time at sea and obviously it's had its challenges," he's told Radio Australia.

"It has been longer than we initially predicted, but then when you're navigating by traditional systems there's no real telling how long it's going to take if you're at the mercy of the environment."

Mr Johnstone says the canoes had arrived a few days ago, but those involved and the community on Easter Island wanted to pay tribute to the man behind the mission, Master Builder Te Hekenukumai Busby.

"The wakas have been sitting out from the island for a few days now waiting to come ashore," he said.

"They've had to wait there while Hector Busby, who's the waka builder - he's the 80 year old whose vision this whole project has been for 20 years - so they've been sitting out there almost tormented, but not being able to come onshore, because it's really important from a protocol perspective that Hector be on board when they came in."