Timberland Ltd is a long-time sponsor and associate of Marumaru Atua and has allowed the vaka parts to be worked on at their Panama property.
Timberland manager Alex Olah said the company was pleased to be able to help.
The vaka was significantly damaged when a fire broke out on board in September last year and will be out of operation until it is repaired.
“We decided to move the main components of the vaka that can possibly be damaged by weathering, so we can work on them properly,” Olah said.
The vaka’s main structure will remain at its current site beside the Avatiu wharf for the meantime as it is constructed of fiberglass and won’t be affected by the weather
“We will work on the rest of the topside areas that need maintenance,” Olah said.
Cook Islands Voyaging Society secretary Cecile Marten said the vaka needs a new hull which will cost over $250,000 to construct.
Marten said it would have to be built in New Zealand and shipped to Rarotonga.
So far $50,000 has been raised through donations and pledges but Marten says they are short by around $250,000.
“We hope that we can raise the money by May this year.”
The Cook Islands Voyaging Society has launched their second fundraiser through the online Givealittle site to help raise money for the repairs.
Marten said they were facing the harsh reality that without the support of government, they would be unlikely to get funding from aid donors.
“We don’t expect a handout but if the government isn’t vocal about working with the Cook Islands Voyaging Society or cannot see the value in restoring this national treasure, then we will not get the support of the international community.
“The Cook Islands Voyaging Society relies on fundraising, sponsorship and volunteers to keep our vaka sailing and money is now the determining factor as to whether or not our vaka will sail again in the near future.
“We don’t want a handout, we want a hand up.
“It is heartbreaking to see our vaka in its current state.”
Marten says their goal for the next two years is to see Marumaru Atua sail Cook Islands waters and work alongside Marae Moana before attending the 2020 Pacific Arts Festival, to be held in Hawaii.
“Until then we continue to try and knock on doors, plan fundraisers and slowly work on repairing what we can here, in anticipation of a new hull being built.”