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Paikea sets sail for Samoa

Tuesday 23 May 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Art, Features, National, Travel

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Paikea sets sail for Samoa
Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation’s Vaka Paikea departed Avatiu Harbour yesterday afternoon sailing for Apia, Samoa. Pictured are the crew onboard the Vaka. MELINA ETCHES/23052209.

Vaka Paikea is on its way to Apia, Samoa travelling the 800 nautical miles using traditional voyaging knowledge under the captaincy of master navigator Peia Patai.

With a mixed crew of 10 onboard from the Cook Islands, Samoa and Hawaii, Vaka Paikea departed Avatiu Harbour yesterday around 12 noon and will be at sea for an estimated seven days before reaching its destination, Samoa.

Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation’s Paikea is chartered by the Aiga Folau o Samoa, or Samoa Voyaging Society to deliver their “Guardians project” to school kids in Savai’i in June.

Captain Karl Steffany of Samoa’s Vaka Gaualofa and the Aiga Folau o Samoa flew in on Monday last week with fellow crew Maoluma Lavatai to undergo training with Patai.

“We are chartering Paikea for a month in Samoa while our vessel Gaualofa is out of commission,” said Steffany, who has done three voyages from Rarotonga to Samoa.

“We have a new crew from Hawaii on board, so some of the crew members are green. We will also be learning, networking and bonding, making new friends. Relationships built on the oceans last for a long time, better than those friendships built on land.

“Voyaging builds networks and we know from past voyages that being out on the ocean is something new that not many people do, I guess it’s in our blood.

“If you want an adventure this is something you can do, there are new places to discover,” said Steffany.

Malanai Nellie Kāne Kuahiwinui from the Kānehūnāmoku Voyaging Academy (KVA) of Hawaii and two colleagues arrived on Saturday night’s inaugural Hawaiian Airlines flight.

The Hawaiians are onboard Vaka Paikea for their first ocean voyage.

In Hawaii, Kuahiwinui teaches children canoe culture and sailing. She is the programme coordinator and captain of a much smaller vessel Kānehūnāmoku – a 29 feet double hulled sailing canoe.

“There’s a lot of reasons why I’m on this voyage,” Kuahiwinui said.

“A big one is to be better informed when I’m educating our students about voyaging and why voyaging is important to us the people of the ocean, so being able to go out on the ocean will give me first-hand experience to share.”

Although she was “a wee bit nervous” yesterday, Kuahiwinui said she is looking forward to being a crew member and not being in charge.

“To creating connections with the people on board, to learning the different languages with everyone that makes me really excited and learning about this vaka. I’m super grateful to be here to have the opportunity to do this, a big mahalo and thank you to everyone for organising this,” said Kuahiwinui.

The captain and crew onboard are: Cook Islands - Captain Peia Patai, Zebadiah Tetonga Revake, Tuainekore (Katu) Teiti, Tariu Wayne Tairea, Steven Daniels; Samoa – ‘Gaualofa’ captain Karl Edward Steffany, Maoluma Lavatai; Hawaii - Kamuela Ehukai Yong, Kimberly Kaleial Ohalani Elia and Malanai Nellie Kāne Kuahiwinui.