Sailing for the future

Sailing for the future

Crew members of Vaka Marumaru Atua with secretary of Tauranga Vananga Emile Kairua. MELINA ETS/24050209

Vaka Marumaru Atua’s voyage to the Festival of Pacific Arts in Hawaii aims to revive traditional navigation techniques and celebrate cultural heritage, with a young crew guided by experienced navigators.

Vaka Marumaru Atua of the Cook Islands Voyaging Society heads to Hawaii next week to participate in the 2024 Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (Festpac 2024) in Honolulu from June 6 to 16.

The Ve’eve’e farewell ceremony for the crew was held on Thursday, organized by the Ui Ariki and the Government through the Tauranga Vananga (Ministry of Cultural Development) at Tuitikamoana (Avarua Wharf).

The voyage is more than just a sea voyage, it represents the revival of traditional navigation techniques and a celebration of cultural heritage.

One advocate for preserving this traditional knowledge is Peia Patai, a respected navigator who believes in the importance of passing on this heritage to future generations.

Patai will serve as captain of Vaka Marumaru Atua for this upcoming voyage.

Traditional navigator Peia Patai bids farewell to Kaumaiti Nui, Tou Travel Ariki during Ve’eve’e’s farewell ceremony. MELINA ETS/24050206

“It is very important that our traditional navigation techniques are passed on from generation to generation,” says Patai, who emphasizes the importance of traditional knowledge and the impact of providing young people with opportunities to experience vaka travel.

“I think there’s more urgency now for us to pass on that knowledge, and that’s the biggest thing behind this, behind this trip… for me to pass on the knowledge to our young people so that we don’t go abroad to seek more knowledge again.

“This knowledge remains here, it is ours, so we must grab it with both hands and pass it on to our young people.”

The vaka was initially scheduled to leave Rarotonga for Hawaii yesterday, but unfavorable winds have postponed the trip until next week.

Patai says winds are forecast to be favorable for the vaka’s departure next Tuesday.

Although Hawaii is directly north of the Cook Islands, the vaka will have to head east to stay on course.

Marumaru Atua has a full crew of 16, including seven men from the Pa Enua.

“I’m pretty sure the young people sailing with us are more enthusiastic than I am,” says Patai.

“I look forward to seeing how they will meet the challenges and the outcome, and I have no doubts in their abilities.”

Daryl Ngaoire is 24 years old and from Mauke Island.

The trip to Hawaii will be his first and longest trip outside the waters of the Cook Islands.

“I’d like to try this out. I know it will be a long journey but I am excited, there is nothing to be afraid of,” Ngaoire said.

In his opening speech at the Ve’eve’e ceremony, President of the House of Ariki, Kaumaiti Nui Tou Travel Ariki, noted the achievements of the late Sir Tom Davis, considered the ‘father’ of voyages on the Cook Islands.

Tou Ariki also recognized traditional navigator Tua Pittman, and Cook Islands Voyaging Society patron Ian Karika, who along with Patai have each continued to teach and pass on their knowledge of travel.

Kaumaiti Nui extended his blessings and thanked the crew and the government for their support through Tauranga Vananga.

Deputy Prime Minister Albert Nicholas bids farewell to the crew of Vaka Marumaru Atua. MELINA ETST/24050219

Deputy Prime Minister Albert Nicholas, representing the government, was proud that the “resilient” crew was ready to set sail to represent the country at Festpac 2024.

“For our brave, we gather today not only to say goodbye, but also to send out our ship Marumaru Atua on a sacred mission to represent our culture and heritage at the Festival of Arts in Hawaii,” said Nicholas.

“Your skills, perseverance and unity have brought us to this moment, and I have complete confidence in your ability to navigate the seas and steer our ship safely to its destination.

King’s representative Sir Tom Marsters, and Kaumaiti Nui, Tou Travel Ariki with the Mitiaro crew. MELINA ETS/24050220

“As you begin your journey, may you find comfort in knowing that you are not alone, and just as our ancestors navigated these waters with courage and resilience, you too carry their legacy with you.”

Nicholas encouraged the crew to rely on each other’s strength.

“We pray for fair winds and smooth seas, and let the Spirit of God be your guiding light.

“May your journey be filled with moments of wonder, camaraderie and joy.”

The crew of Vaka Marumaru Atua sailing to Hawaii are: Peia Patai, Deon Charles Wong, Olliver Murray David Oolders, Zebadiah Tetonga Revake, Steven Daniels, Ngatama Ria Tuakanangaro, Vaine Aue Metua Tauirarii, Tutere Peter Moetaua, Antony Sean Tekau-Ariki Vavia , David Roimata Rouru, Tuainepatira Ngametua, Moana Tamahae Ignatius Rakei, Daryl Ngaoire, Vavia Winaldo Puapii, Noah KL Nunokawa and Kelii Justin Tsuyoshi Kaneshiro.

The crew of Vaka Marumaru Atua sailing from Hawaii to Rarotonga are: Peia Patai, Deon Charles Wong, Olliver Murray David Oolders, Zebadiah Tetonga Revake, Steven Daniels, Ngatama Ria Tuakanangaro, Vaine Aue Metua Tauirarii, Teariki Gardner, Ian Karika, Evangelene Joy Kia Wong, Ben Raela, Jon Gossling, Josh Rowles, Sandy Ankli and Andre Akavi.