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Vaka sails for Suwarrow to assist with pest eradication

Wednesday 8 June 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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Vaka sails for Suwarrow to  assist with pest eradication
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 caretaker.

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.