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‘Waka’ to sail to Hawaii, Cook Isles next year

By Helen Greig RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, July 28, 2009) - A new ‘waka hourua’ (double-hulled vessel) has been launched by Ngati Kahungunu to sail among a fleet to Hawai΄i and later feature as part of the Rugby World Cup 2011 celebrations in Hawke’s Bay.

Cook Island Voyaging Society members helped build the waka and were at the launch on July 15 from the Salthouse boat builders yard in Greenhithe, Auckland.

The vaka is the third to be built in the same design as the Cook Islands and Samoa ocean voyaging canoes.

The Cook Islands vaka, Marumaru Atua, was launched in April and is modeled on Te Au O Tonga which is berthed in Avatiu wharf.

The waka’s first major outing will be its maiden voyage from Rarotonga to Hawai΄i in around May or June next year with other Pacific canoes.

The fleet will sail to Hawai΄i at the invitation of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Makali’i Voyaging Society.

The participating groups intend to celebrate the formation of Pacific Voyagers -- a network of voyaging groups in American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga and Western Samoa, which was formed in February.

The Pacific Voyagers’ network project has won funding and support from the Okeanos Foundation, an international philanthropic organization based in Germany, formed with the objective of protecting the ocean environment and marine life.

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