For the past eight months, when Ryan and Hudson Street finished school each day, their friends would head off home, or to sports.
But these two brothers, a couple of afternoons each week, would head up to master carver Mike Tavioni’s workshop.
The boys had carved pates last year and they loved what they learned – so they asked Papa Mike if they could build a vaka next.
The past months they have been working hard after school, carving this amazing piece with Tavioni’s help, guidance and support.
And, after finishing school for the weekend, all their hard work was realised when their vaka was launched.
They named the canoe Vaka Nio Mango, meaning “Sharks Tooth”. The name was chosen for the pattern carved into the side of their vaka.
“They have loved their time with Papa Mike, the stories he has shared, explaining the history and legends of all of his artwork,” said their mother, Alisha Street. “They have learnt so so much from their time spent at the gallery.
“We are forever thankful to Papa Mike for his kindness, sharing his knowledge and passion for carving and generosity of time – he is an absolute inspiration, role model and the epitome of the kia orana spirit and values, everything we love so much about the Cook Islands and its people.
The boys said they had loved learning carving from Papa Mike – though, when asked their favourite part, six-year-old Hudson said all the umu kai!
Ryan, 8, said his favourite part was using the chisel to carve through the inside of the vaka, though it was sometimes hard to stay on task.
And the funniest thing? “Hudson always asking for food, and Papa Mike threatening to use his stick!”
Alisha and David Street expressed a huge meitaki ma’ata from the bottom of their hearts, to Papa Mike and his lovely wife Awhitia.
“A massive thank you to Papa Mike and his team, a master and a Cook Islands legend,” David Street said.