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Stanley Conrad is a captain on the waka hourua Te Aurere. He is from Te Aupouri in the far north where the waka is based. Te Aurere is unique because it was built using traditional methods, tools, and materials, under the supervision of Te Hekenukumai Busby. If you want to know more about Te Aurere go to this website.
What does the Te Aurere waka look like? How big is it? How many people could fit on it?
The waka looks like catamaran with two upside down sails, and a large steering paddle. It is 57 feet long and 14 feet wide. It sails with 14 crew members.
What traditional techniques and materials were used to make the waka?
The hulls of the waka are made from two large kauri trees from the Herekino forest. It is lashed together with a fibre rope call manila. We used a traditional lashing technique to lash the waka together. We also used adze tools to carve out the hulls.
How long did it take you to plan for the trip to Rarotonga in 1992? What did you have think about to make sure it was a safe trip?
It took two years from building Te Aurere to training the crew, and planning the sail. We had to make sure that the waka and crew were safe, and that the weather conditions were OK for the sail.
How long did the trip from New Zealand to Rarotonga take? What was it like living on the waka?
The sail took 24 days. It was a bit hard for the first few days. But you soon got into the routine of eating , sleeping, waking up to do your watches at odd times, walking around on board, helping to cook, sailing and steering the waka, and going to the toilet.
I’ve heard that you used only traditional navigation techniques on your trip. Can you please tell me what some of them are?
Yes we did. We navigated by using the sun rising and setting in the morning and evening. We use the ocean swells and clouds during the day and at night we use the stars, moon, and planets. Sea birds, mammals, fish and floating objects show us that we are near to land.
Is sailing a waka dangerous? What can go wrong?
As long as you have all the safety procedures in place, it’s not that dangerous. Having a man go over board would be the worse thing that could happen.
What’s the difference between the shape and design of Te Aurere and an America’s Cup boat?
Te Aurere is a double hull waka designed as close to a traditional sailing waka as possible, using traditional materials. While the America’s Cup boat is a mono hull design made from modern materials.
What did you learn when you made the trip to Rarotonga?
We learnt that our ancestors were great sailors, and that the ocean was their world. So sailing Te Aurere to Rarotonga was an honour.
What is the most special part about being the captain of Te Aurere?
Having the opportunity to teach crew how to sail a waka hourua, and how to captain.