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Manihiki’s young seafarers

Wednesday 12 April 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National


Manihiki’s young seafarers
Young seafarers on Manihiki Isaac Samson (left) and Kaina Isaia Karaponga received their Boatmaster course certificates. PC SAFER BOATING NZ. 23040612

At the age of five Kaina Isaia Karaponga Jnr was out fishing with his uncle in Manihiki when the boat’s engine broke down and with no form of communication they were at the mercy of the sea for two days and two nights before being found.

The lost at sea experience has not frightened Karaponga away from boats or the deep blue, instead it has instilled in him a healthy respect for safe practises at sea.

Now 13-years-old Karaponga and his friend Isaac Samson also 13 and both keen fishermen recently passed the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme (PMSP) Boatmaster exam on Manihiki.

“I was once in a situation out alone in the ocean with my Uncle Mokoha (Johnson), and we drifted further out from Manihiki because we had engine problems with our boat… safety is very important and we were very lucky to be found,” said Karaponga.

Karaponga and his uncle were spotted by a New Zealand (RNZAF) Orion aircraft and rescued by boat builder Teokotai “Tango” Herman.

“ “I love fishing and going out into the ocean with my father Kaina Karaponga Senior and my Uncle Mokoha Johnson and I’ve learned a lot from them both,” he said.

“I’m very happy and proud and feel great to receive the certificate.

“This is a learning point for me to be aware of the need for safety when going out into the ocean.

“I’m only 13 and to be part of this course has been an awesome journey for me.

“I won’t stop here and will go further to receive more certificates in the course. My career goal is to become a professional Boat Master one day,” said Karaponga.

The Pacific Maritime Safety Programme has been on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua working with the Cook Islands Ministry of Transport (MOT) for a month-long visit which included vessel safety inspections and the delivery of Cook Islands Boatmaster training with the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institution.

On Manihiki, Karaponga and Samson spend time at sea with their respective father’s Kaina Karaponga Snr and Trainee Samson.

The boys observed the Boatmaster course as a school extra-curriculum activity and both passed the exam receiving the ‘Young Adult General Licence’ which allows them to take boats out within the lagoon.

They will be eligible to receive the Boatmaster certificate when they are 18-years-old.

Manihiki School principal Anna Rauru noted how proud she was of the boys “wonderful achievements” which is of great value since they have a deep and nine kilometre wide lagoon.

Aotearoa New Zealand is proud to support the long-running Pacific Maritime Safety Programme, which is funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade programme (MFAT) and  delivered by Maritime New Zealand.