With repair work set to begin this April, on the fire-damaged vessel, secretary Cecile Marten told CINews on Monday that there was a desperate need for a $100,000 to ensure work began next month. The repairs would otherwise have to be made next year at the earliest, she added.
However, yesterday she said she had spoken from “a personal desperation” that due to timing and cash flow, the fate of the famed vaka was in limbo.
“I have been trying to see how we could possibly raise the money required, as we only have a short window of opportunity to slot in to Salthouse Boatbuilders’ production schedule,” Marten said.
“I have been knocking on doors, I have been to the bank. We are trying to find a solution, because I would be devastated if we miss this window.”
Marten highlighted the $255,000 government had contributed to the repair project, which she said showed their desire to have the national treasure restored.
“It is our culture and identity that defines us and we hope that once vaka is sailing again, she will continue to teach Cook Islanders about voyaging and traditional navigation and caring for our environment.”
She said she was desperate to see the vaka seaworthy again so that more Cook Islanders could experience the tradition and culture of voyaging.
Meanwhile, Nick Peal from Salthouse Boatbuilders arrived on Rarotonga on Tuesday night to salvage parts off the vaka to be used on the new hull.
Salthouse Builders originally built nine replicas of Te Au O Tonga, with Marumaru Atua being the first. They also have the mould for the vaka.
“We have a small but dedicated team of volunteers who give their time and have started work on what we can do ourselves,” Marten said.
“With Nick here he can give us a work plan and show us how to fix things ourselves properly so that when the new hull arrives it will be as good as new.”