Traditional master navigators Tua Pittman and Peia Patai are passing on traditional voyaging knowledge to the next generation. 22112406
Traditional navigator Tua Pittman is back on the island taking a break from sailing around the world on Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic cruise ships which deliver programmes in education, empower local artisans and protected wild areas.
“It’s really good to be back,” said Pittman who is one
of the trustees of Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation, a charitable trust which
aims to revive and preserve traditional wayfinding.
Te Puna Marama has received a canoe Vaka Motu Okeanos
Waa'Qab in a bid to realise its goal. The vaka will be renamed “Paikea” next
April, to start up an educational programme.
“This is perfect timing,” to start the education foundation
of the ocean and ocean survival, and everything else that comes with tradition,
Pittman was introduced to traditional voyaging at the
age 19 when he joined the Hokulea, the Hawaiian vaka.
He is now working alongside traditional navigator Peia
Patai, one of the co-founders of Te Puna Marama, and together they would like
to entice more people to take up voyaging.
Peia was first introduced to traditional voyaging in
Hawaii in 1991.
Both Pittman and Patai are master navigators taught by
Hawaiian Nainoa Thompson, along with Pwo master navigator Mau Piailug – the
Micronesian seafarer who is credited for sparking the Pacific voyaging
Guided by Thompson and Piailug, Pittman and Patai were
both trained in wayfinding which is the ancient art of navigating the
open-ocean using only the stars, clouds, wind, waves and other patterns of
Discussions have been held with Corrective Services
for Peia to start a “rehabilitation like programme” with inmates next year.
Patai said they believe that traditional knowledge and
the voyaging foundation can help those who are detained inside prison and on
“Hopefully this will inspire them to turn their lives
around, because we have to understand them which I think is really important …
they’re not all bad.
“It’s our moral responsibility to help out, their lives are important
too,” said Patai.
The voyaging programme will start teaching
participants from the basics – “from the very beginning”.
“Everyone has to understand it, you don’t just learn
about navigation, you start from scratch, learning how to scrape the wood, sand
the wood and look after the canoe.”
Participants will be encouraged to learn and speak
Maori, learn the names of the constellations and to appreciate and respect
traditions and culture.
“We’re getting on to teach the next generation the art
and skills of voyaging,” said Patai.
Jennifer Kingsley, a National Geographic explorer and
the field correspondent for Lindblad Expeditions, accompanied Pittman to
Rarotonga to capture and tell his story and relationship to traditional