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Monday 21 November 2011 | Published in Regional


The uniting power of outrigger paddling was highlighted at the opening ceremony of the Vaka Eiva festival at Avarua harbour on Saturday.

In her address, Cook Islands Canoeing Association president Janet Maki talked about the sport of paddling being one of unity.

As a paddler you are told to feel the canoe, feel the ocean and work as one to paddle the vaka, said Maki.

She also made an apology to Joseph Vakatini Ariki for her error in naming his ancestor Pa Te Pou Ariki as a chief from Takitumu instead of Te Au O Tonga. Her apology was accepted by Vakatini Ariki.

Thank you papa we can now continue our festival in peace and harmony.

On behalf of landowner Makea Karika Ariki, tumu korero Ian Karika shared with visiting paddlers and supporters the significance of the Avarua harbour area, traditionally known as Tuituika Moana, to the people of the Cook Islands.

This area is traditionally known as Tuituika Moana known in English as phosphorescence organisms that light up in the ocean, said Karikia.

This is just one of many tools used by traditional navigators when they are voyaging on Te Moana Nui o Kiva and in the old days the tuituika moana lit up the entrance to this harbour.

Karika said that Makea Karika Ariki would have loved to have been part of the opening but she promised she would join the paddling family at the closing ceremony.

Mama Karika only asks one thing of all paddlers and that is no paddling on Sunday.

Minister of youth, sport and finance Mark Brown was thrilled to see so many visitors to the island enjoying the Avarua harbour area a playground of his as a child.

This area is significant in so many ways to the Cook Islands people and was once a hub of shipping activity where goods came and left the island.

Socially this area is where my children swim today, where I swam as a kid and where my father swam when he was young.

Brown encouraged all paddlers to enjoy Vaka Eiva and the islands hospitality before he declared the 2011 Vaka Eiva festival officially open.

Official addresses were then followed by a wonderful cultural show by Avarua School children and the prizegiving for oe vaka races held on Saturday including the V1 and OC1 ocean races as well as the first of the Mapu Oe Vaka lagoon races in Muri.