Land of Voyagers
Thousands of years ago, people sailed across a third of the planet, in the greatest migration in the history of mankind. To do that, they had to be scientists, astrologists, engineers, mathematicians, innovators… What if young Māori and Pasifika who seem to struggle with this European vision of science know there’s another way to look at the universe, and that it’s in their DNA? If we ask ourselves why they’re at the bottom of our education ladder in STEM, maybe it’s because they’ve been denied this story for 250 years.
The tracker films showcased below are a series of stories on how a team of three celestial navigators guided a crew of thirteen across 4300km of the Pacific Ocean, aboard Fa’afaite Waka, relying solely on the technology available to the Polynesian wayfinders who preceded them. Land of Voyagers was a project brought to life by Ian Taylor and his company Animation Research Ltd. The following short films are the tracker stories onboard during the 20 day leg at sea, captured by Madison Henry Ryan ( Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Rarotonga) of Māui Studios on behalf of Taylormade Media.
Mads, who joined a watch crew rotating on four-hour shifts, says the first week in warm island waters was “real festive”, with lots of singing and sunbathing on deck. Later, night temperatures dropped below freezing. On the seventh day, they were hit by a storm, with winds of 30-40 knots whipping up huge swells. “It was pretty intense, getting bashed by the waves, which were coming from behind us,” he says. “Usually there’s only one person on the hoe [the large paddle used to steer]. We needed four or five.”
Upon arrival to Aotearoa, The Fa’afaite waka joined the official Tuia 250 flotilla, alongside a replica of Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, two tall ships and an additional three waka hourua (double hulled canoes). Tuia – Encounters 250 was a commemoration in 2019 marking 250 years since the first onshore encounters between Māori and Pākehā in 1769. Tuia 250 celebrated Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific voyaging heritage and was a national opportunity to hold honest conversations about the past, the present and how we navigate our shared future.
Kō ngā tahu ā ō tapuwai inanahi, hei tauira mō āpōpō – in the Maori world view it is our past that always lies in front of us – “The footsteps laid down by our ancestors centuries ago, create the paving stones upon which we stand today.”
That means, if we are to truly understand how we came to be who we are today, we have to understand the footsteps – all of the footsteps – that brought us here.