BALSA RAFT ARRIVES IN PAPEÉTE

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PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, July 31) - Traditional dances welcomed the Tangaroa expedition which arrived Sunday afternoon in the Papeéte waterfront. A crowd of 1,000 greeted the Norwegian crew with cheers. The expedition successfully went from South America to French Polynesia just like Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki did in 1947.

Tangaroa was expected as early as Saturday in Tahiti but the arrival of the balsa raft finally occurred Sunday afternoon.

A big swell during the weekend made the towing of the raft to the Papeéte Harbor difficult.

The Tangaroa expedition led by 32-year-old Norwegian Torgeir Higraff received a warm welcome by the population and officials. Thor Heyerdahl's son was also there to greet the crew.

The raft left Peru at the end of April and first reached Raroia, in the Tuamotu Archipelago on July 7 after 71 days at sea.

The balsa raft then went last Monday to Raiatea, in the Leeward Islands.

The Norwegian crew attended in Raiatea a special celebration which took place at the Taputapuatea marae, a restored international archaeological site famous among Polynesians throughout the South Pacific.

It is considered as the most important and sacred ceremonial site in eastern Polynesia during the pre-Christian era.

The Tangaroa expedition is led by 32-year-old Norwegian Torgeir Higraff.

Tangaroa will be put on a cargo ship and transported to Norway. It should end up on exhibit in a museum.

Tangaroa is 16-meter (52.5-ft.) long and has a 13-meter (42.7-ft.) tall mast and 60 square meters (290.6 sq. ft.) of sail.

The Norwegian crew will take part Monday and Tuesday in the forum held in Papeéte by the "Taatihaga Tamariki Raroia" association. This forum focuses on ancestral navigation in the Polynesian islands.

August 1, 2006

Tahitipresse: www.tahitipresse.pf

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