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Into the teeth of the wind

Friday 21 August 2020 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local

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Into the teeth of the wind
Cook Island Voyaging Society members Dion Wong, left, and Ana Maine, and Byron Brown on board Vaka Marumaru Atua. 20081920

Depending on the weather, Marumaru Atua’s skipper hopes to sail the vaka out of Avarua harbour this weekend, bound for the island of Mangaia for the investiture of Numangatini Ariki.

Captain Peia Patai is hoping for a north-easterly breeze, but he may get something more daunting. Last night the Meteorological Service issued a strong wind warning, for a fresh easterly flow over the southern Cook Islands.

To meet the maritime requirements, only sixteen people – eight competent crew including Patai, as well as eight passenger crew from the Romani and Co charter – will be on board for the voyage.

Rarotonga to Mangaia is just over 200km, as the frigate bird flies. But facing an easterly wind, the Marumaru Atua may have to sail far further, tacking back and forth to attend the investiture of Tangi Tereapii as Numangatini Ariki on August 28.

Part of the costs are met by the Seacology foundation, brokered by Te Marae Moana’s director Maria Tuoro.

Cook Islands Voyaging Society board member Nooroa Bim Tou said the society is putting in place proper management procedures as their voluntary work was “very challenging” without assured ongoing funding.

This voyage would educate people about preserving the ocean and land ecosystem and traditional culture values, which were consistent with the Seacology vision.

Tou appreciated the cultural value of the vaka and has sailed with Tou Ariki and the late Makea Vakatini Joe Ariki from Aitutaki to Atiu, some years ago.

“It was such a great experience and very interesting watching the teaching of the crew, learning the types of waves breaking, star watching and more.”

He is aware there are more crew members who want to take part but the maximum is 16. “We have to comply with the insurance and safety regulations.”

Vaka Marumaru Atua belongs to the people of the Cook Islands, gifted by the Okeanos Foundation. “Our role as the Cook Islands Voyaging Society is, we are the custodians on behalf of the people of the Cook Islands.

“Everyone is welcome, we just manage,” Tou said. “We want continue supporting further future voyages to the Pa Enua.”