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Voyaging canoe legend dies in Hawaii

 A co-founder of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Ben Finney. January 2012. [Photo: Star Advertiser/ Gary Kubota via RNZI]

A co-founder of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Ben Finney, has died.

An anthropologist and pioneer in the reconstruction and sailing of Polynesian voyaging canoes, Mr Finney had first dreamed of building a canoe and sailing it to Tahiti while a student at the University of Hawai'i in 1958.

He later built Nalehia, a replica of a Hawaiian double canoe that provided the basic information on sailing performance that went into planning for the ocean going Hokulea's first voyage to Tahiti in 1976.

Mr Finney, who set out to show Hawaiians could intentionally sail long-distances without modern instruments, eventually sailed across the Pacific a number of time.

As well as French Polynesia, he visited the Cook Islands and New Zealand.

The president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Nainoa Thompson, said Hawaii, the Pacific and the world was indebted to the work of Ben Finney.