From the Good Ship R. Tucker Thompson on passage once more. So we managed to navigate our way from Man O War bay, rejoining the fleet in the channel off Maretai. Foresail hoisted for stability engine providing the power. The southwesterly right on the nose giving little assistance to the waka as we tacked our way to an anchorage inside of HMB Endeavour and Spirit of New Zealand, still a long way from shore in blustery choppy conditions. Lunch was soon prepared which was enjoyed as we hurried up to wait. Communications from Kaitiki kept us up to date with various scenarios until the final programme was settled on.
The tender was launched and the first lot of trainees were shore bound. The second trip brought us all together in high spirits. We had a gathering of at least a hundred crew from the various vessels waiting on the shore for the karanga to welcome from beach to marae. The procession created a road delay for the traffic with the spectacle of ocean voyaging waka and vaka hauled up on the beach proving a nice distraction for tourists.
Once on the marae we sat in relative shelter under a row of temporary tents as speeches from tanagata whenua and manuhiri merged us together. Waiata bellowed the canvas structures, Maori first then the ukelele and drums of the Tahitians had all swaying. The low cumulus scattered as ra gave us warmth to our task. Gifts presented, accepted and blessed then the traditional hongi parade as they met us up close and personal before inviting us for the hakiri. Well, the tables laid out with kina and paua and ika looked hearty, then the plates of hot chicken, beef, kumara, potato and cabbage were placed before us and we were silent, for a short time… then it was “can you please pass…” and “ don’t take it all”, “leave some for me” before it all came around again and we could settle down for the sweet dessert and custard. We tidied up our plates for the kitchen and looked longingly (for she was a long way out) towards Tucker and our beds.
With calmer seas, quietened with laughter we slowly made our way home. Tender hoisted and anchor, back down the Waiheke Channel with the forecast for apopo the big conversation. Below waiata and laughter blended, new experiences shared ready for a cosy night below decks in the belly of the Tucker, ka pai I tenei ra.
Ma te wa