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Pacific Islands

Fresh water for Vaka voyagers

Monday 10 January 2022 | Written by Alana Musselle | Published in National, Travel

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Fresh water for Vaka voyagers
PTS plumbing and the Cook Islands Voyaging Society team working on assembling and installing the watermaker on the Marumaru Atua. 22010704

The executives of the Cook Islands Voyaging Society were beyond excited to receive a fresh watermaker, which will enhance life on Vaka Marumaru Atua for voyagers and also help the Pa Enua with their water supply where it’s needed.

The ‘Spectra Watermaker’was funded by Nia Tero, a US based non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to highlighting the work of indigenous peoples in upholding many of the planet’s healthiest ecosystems, rich in biodiversity, and systems essential to the security of global food production, fresh water, and the climate.

Alongside the support from the Cook Islands-based NGO, Korero o te Orau and the Cook Islands Voyaging Society, the water making device is now being assembled in Aitutaki where the Vaka Marumaru Atua is currently docked.

The watermaker will mean the vaka can be self-sufficient for fresh water when travelling and also means there is no burden on the Pa Enua to supply precious water when the vaka is visiting.

Tom Mcdonald helping with installing the watermaker. 22010705.

The Society expressed their deep gratitude to Nia Tero for funding the device which will enhance life on the vaka and in the Pa Enua immensely.

The watermaker works by removing salt content from ocean water and making it drinkable. It is able to produce 1.5 to 120 gallons per hour.

Usually the vaka crew would take on their voyages about forty 25 litre plastic containers filled with water. They would have to ration it for the voyages, and it would only be used for cooking and drinking. The crew would have salt water rinse offs using a bucket of ocean water, followed by coconut oil to remove salt from their skin.

Alex Olah, voyager and member of the Cook Islands Voyaging Society, said: “The watermaker will make our logistics so much more efficient, and we will be able to carry more cargo instead of tons of water.” “It’s going to be awesome. One point

“It’s going to be awesome. One point of life on the vaka is once you leave land you kiss goodbye to fresh water showers. Now we will be able to produce enough for cooking, drinking, and possibly that extra little bit of comfort with fresh water showers.”

He said what was most impressive about this watermaker in particular was that it produces so much water, “more than they would need”. This will enable them to help out certain outer islands which they visit with their water supply and quick replenishment where it’s needed.

The equipment to assemble the Spectra Watermaker. 22010703

The crew will also no longer have to use the water supply from the islands they visit as they will have their own and will even be able to share. Rakahanga and Penrhyn are two islands in particular which the crew have noticed to struggle often with their water supply.

The water making device was initially meant to be ready for the Northern group voyage the vaka undertook last year, which was the biggest Cook Islands voyage that had ever been done.

However, with freight and shipping problems caused by the global pandemic it wasn’t possible. Nevertheless, the Society is beyond excited to have it ready for the many big things they have lined up for 2022.

They will be launching a range of educational projects and will be looking into doing many more Pa Enua voyages, as well as vaka training and upskilling for Cook Islanders. The vaka being currently in Aitutaki will make its first voyage of the year back to Rarotonga and will get up and running with its next voyage to Suwarrow for the rat eradication programme alongside Te Ipukarea Society.

The Society said: “2022 will be all about doing things within our waters, lots of Pa Enua voyages, and Cook Islanders trainings and upskilling.”