The great Polynesian canoe race, Hawaiki Nui Va’a, is coming back at the end of the year. Born in 1992, from the dream of Edouard Maamaatuaiahutapu and his friends, this International Sporting Event was inspired to its creators by the natural majesty of the islands where they lived and by the traditions of their ancestors. This last idea is clearly illustrated by the name of the race, which borrows the ancient name of the island of Raiatea : Hawaiki Nui. It is believed to have been, in pre-european times, the origin of the great Polynesian migrations towards all the lands of the Polynesian triangle, which is delimited by Hawaï, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Easter Island. Raiatea would have been the colonisation central base, from which all the surrounding ocean was scouted, and all emerged lands discovered, and sometimes conquered.
Like the Olympics celebrating antique greek traditions, Hawaiki Nui Va’a celebrates some of the greatest skills valued in ancient Polynesian culture: physical strength, endurance and navigation.
Hundreds of crews coming from all around the world compete in a 6 places canoe, equipped with an outrigger for stability, called a va’a (or vaka). Inspired by their ancestral traditional couter-parts, they are nowadays optimized with the use of modern techniques and materials.
The race consists in a 125 kms course, in less than 10 hours, divided in 3 days, racing between 4 different islands: Huahine to Raiatea, Raiatea to Tahaa and Tahaa to Bora Bora, powered only by the 6 men crew, equipped with paddles. Each one has its own role to play. The first one, the fa’ahoro, in front of the va’a, gives the paddling rhythm, essential to harmonize the movement and get the best power. The third is the “engine”: he focuses on giving the strongest “push”, and on ordering the switch of the paddling side to the crew. Although this might not appear at first place like capital, it is in fact really strategic. The sixth, the peperu, steers the outrigger. The second, the fourth and the fifth assit each of the three first mentioned in their respective responsibility.
We will relay this great Pacificans gathering event soon, as it is programmed for the 1rst, 2nd and 3rd november.
See also the role of Hawaiki Nui centuries ago in the Polynesian civilisation, and its most sacred place, Marae Taputapuatea.