Family and friends farewell voyagers. From left: Kelvin Passfield, Ana Tiraa, Ian Karika, Tuaine Unuia, Teina Vakapora, Tina Upu, Tupuna Tou, Ashleigh Chaloner and Eileen Vakapora. Captain and navigator Peia Patai (back far right). Photo: Melina Etches/22060715
Vaka Marumaru Atua has departed Avarua Harbour for the uninhabited island of Suwarrow, nearly 1600 kilometres north of Rarotonga.
Captain and master navigator Peia Patai says he is not expecting rough weather conditions, and the voyage to Suwarrow usually takes about three to four days depending on the winds.
The vaka will stay in Suwarrow for two weeks before
returning to Rarotonga.
Joining the crew on board are members of Te Ipukarea
Society (TIS) who will lead the rat eradication
programme, and Teina Vakapora, one of the park rangers for Suwarrow.
Kelvin Passfield from TIS says on a stopover on Motu
Tou in Suwarrow last year, a few rats were discovered, while on this trip, rat
bait will set out to help eradicate them.
Three new first time crew members are Teina Vakapora,
Ana Tiraa and Mia Samuel who grew up in Suwarrow, when his father was the
Vakapora says the training programme in preparation
for the voyage was pretty difficult since everything was new to her.
She managed to get through the training and is looking
forward to the challenge of the voyage.
“I’m very nervous but very excited too, I’m venturing
into the unknown, and I will miss everyone here at home.”
First time voyager Tiraa was also feeling “nervous and
excited” and will be happy to see Suwarrow again.