Hinemoana comes to Tauranga

Pat and Gena Mohi on board Hinemoana. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

The first tall ship alongside at the Tauranga waterfront, since the harbour bridge stopped traffic, is the voyaging waka Hinemoana, which is taking the opportunity over the next week to meet possible future passengers.

Hinemoana is the waka of Hawaiki Rising, a recently established trust offering 10-day youth voyages presenting experiential learning, personal growth and development.

Part of a flotilla of seven waka designed and built in 2009 for Te Mana O Te Moana – The Pacific Voyagers, the Spirit of the Ocean voyage, Hinemoana was the flagship, says Hawaiki Rising project leader Pat Mohi.

“She was built in mind that she would cater to all the small islands that couldn’t maintain and keep the vessel to themselves,” says Pat.

“So on the deck and throughout the vessel are designs and symbols that come from each of the different islands. She is the pan-Pacific vessel that incorporates all the traditions of Polynesia as well as Micronesia and Melanesia.”

As the flagship waka, Hinemoana has been everywhere, from one side of the Pacific Ocean to the other, and the islands in between.

The design with the characteristic raised sterns, comes from Rarotonga.

“This is the type of vessel they believe was used to discover and migrate to the lower south pacific,” says Pat.

“They were the ocean voyaging waka, the buses of the ocean from Rarotonga where the whole science came from.”

When the voyage was over, Hinemoana was originally going to go to the Mediterranean, but the people who had sailed on her wanted to keep her with Katikati-based trustee and yachtsman Simon McDonald.

“Simon approached several of us to see if we would be keen to start a project teaching youth leadership skills on board one of these vessels,” says Pat.

“You can’t just go and buy one of these vessels, it has to go through a whole process of approval.”

For those who voyage on them they become more than just a pair of hulls and a mast; they become and entity, says Pat.

“They are also our caregiver, our sustenance. Without a waka under you on the ocean, you will end up under the ocean.”

A blend of the ancient and present day, Hinemoana is a surveyed commercial vessel and has on board all the modern navigational and safety requirements, such as GPS, an EPIRB, VHF radio. She’s operated by sail and electric engines which are powered through the large solar panel array between the halls aft of the steering oar.

Hinemoana’s hulls are made of fibreglass. All beams are connected to the hulls through traditional lashings. They require no use of fossil energy as they are purely wind and solar powered. Hinemoana embodies the best of traditional knowledge and design with modern technology, and is a showcase of different cultures coming together.