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Busy year ahead for Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation

Wednesday 10 January 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Features, Weekend

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Busy year ahead for Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation
Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation Trust members: Chairman Peia Patai (left) and Secretary Cecile Marten, Maara Maeva who is based in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand and Tua Pittman who is also based overseas. SUPPLIED/24010802

This week on Thursday 11 January, Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation will celebrate its second year of being established in the Cook Islands.

Te Puna Marama Trust is made up of four trustees, two residents - Chairman Peia Patai and Secretary Cecile Marten, as well as Maara Maeva who is based in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Tua Pittman who is also based overseas.

The trustee members undertake their roles voluntarily, juggling their work schedules and family commitments.

Marten said Te Puna Marama relies solely voluntary on fundraising, grants and donations to carry out their work. 

The foundation has several activities and workshops planned for this new year.

Vaka Paikea, their voyaging canoe is currently on dry dock during cyclone season (November – April), undergoing a maintenance programme no major work to be done.

Next month on Saturday 3rd February, their next workshop ‘Iriiri Kapua No Runga Ite Tuku Kaveinga Māori Ate Ui Tupuna’ will be held in Porirua, Wellington, New Zealand from 9am to 5pm at Te Akapuaànga Cook Islands Hall, 14 Mentor Lane, Cannons Creek, Porirua.

Marten said the purpose of this workshop is to discuss and document Cook Islands Māori names for stars and other navigational tools, discuss the traditional name for a navigator as well as the star compass, and the ceremonies and traditions around the investiture of the title of a navigator. 

“We are grateful to the Pawanka Fund for their support to  ensure that our language and traditions are safeguarded for future generations., and we will also be sharing with the community our Trust's vision and about our Vaka Paikea and programmes.

An online workshop is also in the pipeline (details to be confirmed), as well as the ‘Star Compass project’ funded by the New Zealand High Commission which entails constructing teaching compass on the island of Aitutaki and carving the compass on Paikea.

Over the past two years, Te Puna Marama have facilitated workshops to identify Pa Metua who hold traditional knowledge on voyaging and the stars to document and use in their teachings.

Marten said ancestors passed on knowledge through songs and chants... much of this knowledge has been lost. 

This year a compilation of their workshop findings on star names (funded by Pawanka Fund) is expected to be done.

Level 2 of the Teretereanga Vaka programme in Nga Pu Toru (Atiu, Mangaia and Mauke) and in Aitutaki will be carried out.

Because of the large population of Cook Islanders residing in Australia, the foundation held a workshop in Sydney last December to connect with people with the long-term goal of sharing vaka knowledge and teachings with overseas based Cook Islanders.

The workshop involved discussions and documentation of Cook Islands Māori names for Etu (Stars), planets, constellations and other navigational names to be used in their teachings. 

Marten said the Sydney community were very generous and they are grateful to Henry Framhein for the fundraising opportunity when he kindly printed t-shirts, caps and bucket hats for sale at the workshop along with our Paikea singlets.

On behalf of the trustees Marten would like to thank everyone for their support in 2023 and said they are “looking forward to a busy year ahead.”

Te Puna Marama will also be releasing their new 2024 apparel designed by Graeme Jeffries from Stonefish Studio in Aitutaki.

“Meitaki e Aroa Nui for your contributions and support throughout the year. We look forward to sharing many more unforgettable journeys with you,” said Marten.