The Cook Islands Voyaging Society’s patron Tua Pittman attended the Ho’okele Honua Summit held in Honolulu, Hawai’i on the weekend.
The summit saw 25 traditional Polynesian voyaging leaders gather together for the first time to discuss how they can work towards creating a better environmental balance.
The summit began with an awa ceremony welcoming the voyaging community. Deep conversations about the environment and caring for the land and the ocean soon followed, says Pittman.
Famed voyager Nainoa Thompson delivered a stern warning to those in attendance, stating that if they did not act or change, the world would take them to “the island of extinction”. Pittman said the meeting was the beginning of a new era.
“In all of our cultures, the canoe is a movement of people. It moves people from place to place.
“That canoe will always be there. We are jumping on a different canoe now. The canoe is a movement and this is what's being formed right now. We are now building the hull of the new canoe, the spiritual canoe.”
A navigator from Palau, Sesario Sewalur stressed the importance of Pacific people taking the lead in protecting the ocean.
“This is the only resource that we have in the Pacific. We need to show the world. We need to take care of things first,” said Sewalur.
“Even your house, you need to clean your house. Who is going to clean your house? It’s us that we need to take care of this, show the world how much we love our ocean.”
The Polynesian Voyaging Society said with strategic partnerships and community support, the leaders would break through and inspire change within social norms. They hoped to inspire others to take more responsibility for the environment.
Pittman was made a life member of the Cook Islands Voyaging Society at their recent annual general meeting. Ian Karika, Peia Patai, and Tetini Pekepo were also bestowed with the honour. Karika was also re-elected as president. Some changes were made to the CIVS constitution at the meeting, allowing for a reshuffle of the executive.