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Workshop teaches traditional voyaging navigating skills

Thursday 21 April 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, National

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Workshop teaches traditional voyaging navigating skills
The participants at the two-day Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation ‘Iri’iri Kapua no runga I te Tuku Kaveinga Maori a te Ui Tupuna’ workshop. MELINA ETCHES/22042004

Teaching should and must be taught in Te Reo Maori, says Cook Islands master navigator and captain Peia Patai.

Patai led Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation ‘Iri’iri Kapua no runga I te Tuku Kaveinga Maori a te Ui Tupuna’ – a two-day workshop to discuss, collect and document in Cook Islands Maori, our star, constellations and other traditional navigational terms. The workshop held at the National Auditorium is also to enable the creation of resources and a curriculum in Te Reo Maori to teach navigation in the Cook Islands.

Patai said: “This information we collect will be collated and used to teach traditional navigation in our Cook Islands Maori language.”

“We cannot teach it (traditional navigation) in English, it doesn’t feel right, we must teach it in our reo Maori …”

Patai recognises the wealth of traditional information held by the Pa Metua, the elders, who are considered the holders of knowledge. He has conducted the same workshop in Auckland, New Zealand where many of the older Cook Islands generation live.

“The biggest thing for us is to teach what we have learnt from the ‘holders of knowledge’, for us to teach the knowledge so it doesn’t disappear again.”

Maori names and titles will be compiled and recorded and from this list the navigators will decide which names they will adopt and use for their teachings.

Teachers, Te Kopapa Reo Maori language members, Vaka Marumaru Atua crew were among the mix of attendees at the workshop.

Pleased at the interest shown, Patai said: “I’m excited, and having some teachers present is good, they know how to teach…”

Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation member Cecile Martin acknowledged the support from Marumaru Atua – Cook Islands Voyaging Society, New Zealand High Commission and the Ministry of Cultural Development Cook Islands.

Presentations were delivered by Gerald McCormack and Joseph Brider from the Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust, and Pwo navigator and captain Peia Patai. Topics of discussion included the star compass, initiation of a navigator and the use of kava in traditional ceremonies.