The po-whiri was followed by a hongi, the traditional Māori greeting in Aotearoa. It is done by pressing one’s nose to another person at an encounter. In the hongi the ha, or breath of life, is exchanged and intermingled. Through the exchange of this physical greeting, one is no longer considered manuhiri (visitor) but rather tangata whenua, one of the people of the land. The ship was also given a traditional Maori blessing.
On Tuesday morning, the Steve Irwin took on a maximum load of fuel to allow for the maximum possible time to remain in the Sothern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. A full load of fuel for the helicopter was taken on, as well as a ton of donated produce and supplies.
The ship departed from Wellington harbor at noon on Tuesday, December 14th.
A very special thank-you to all the Wellington and Christchurch shore volunteers, the Monsoon Poon restaurant for the dinner they gave our crew, the Holden family, Barnaby Weir of the Black Seed and Sam Manzanza for performing at the benefit, Grant Muir for the banners, Wellington’s Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, and the Te Ati Awa people.
This was a wonderfully warm reception; the crew now heads to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary much encouraged by the showing of Kiwi support.