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Waka crews to be welcomed at Easter Island

03:01 Wed Dec 5 2012
AAP

More than three months after they set out on an epic journey across the Pacific from New Zealand, those on board two waka will finally be welcomed onto Rapanui (Easter Island).

The waka hourua, or double-hulled sailing canoes, which each carries a crew of about 10, left Auckland on August 17 and have made two stops along the way.

The groups will on Wednesday morning set foot on Rapanui.

Rapanui locals will gather to perform a traditional ceremony which will involve prayers and cultural performances.

Chief navigator Jack Thatcher, of Tauranga, told Radio New Zealand the crews are looking forward to stretching their legs after being confined to the waka.

Rapanui Elders Council President, Koro Alberto Hotus, told RNZ his people were preparing a big traditional ceremony to welcome the waka crews to the island.

The expedition, named Waka Tapu, aimed to replicate journeys made by the Polynesian navigators that allowed them to spread throughout the Pacific Islands.

Each waka has a tracking device on board, as well as a satellite phone, in case of emergency.

Sailors took turns sleeping in small compartments for three or four hours at a time, and went fishing constantly for fresh food.