Carvers, vaka voyagers and supporters attended Te Mana O te Vaka kava ceremony at Gallery Tavioni & Vananga in Atupa yesterday. 22092007
Thirty years ago, vaka/canoes from across the Pacific and the islands of the Cook Islands sailed to Rarotonga for the 1992 Pacific Festival of Arts. These days the traditional art of building a canoe from tree logs is rarely seen, however, things are about to change.
With the extra blessing of rain, a special kava
ceremony was held yesterday for the official opening of Te Mana O te Vaka boat
building and sailing project – a
collaboration between the Cook Islands Voyaging Society (CIVS) and Gallery Tavioni
The special occasion was led by master carver Ta’unga
Michael Tavioni who explained the kava ceremony was to signify bringing
everyone together to become centred and focused on the job at hand of building
the vaka which will also strengthen their connections to one another.
Tavioni says the revival of the cultural aspects of
our people is vital, adding one of these is to make vaka “so that we can fish
and feed our people”.
He would also like to see the reintroduction of the
traditional moon phases of fishing and navigation methods, and the making of
fishing lines and fishing hooks “so we do not depend on other countries to
Dr Evangeline Daniela-Wong from the Voyaging Society
said there was the option of making canoes out of plank and plywood.
“But we chose to do the dugout traditional vaka
because we want to perpetuate the art, and we want to keep the art and carving
alive,” Daniela-Wong said.
“The purpose is to teach the construction, and the
sailing of the canoes which will be used for training programmes.”
The project which will be based at the Tavioni Gallery
for the next two months will include the building of six double hulled vaka
from traditional methods, techniques and materials reflecting canoe designs
from across the Cook Islands. The project will be led by Tavioni.
“We are really lucky and fortunate to have sponsors
come on board to support this project,” said Daniela-Wong.
Dr Debi Futter-Puati, the campus director of the
University of the South Pacific (USP) Cook Islands, is very excited and
honoured to be a part of the project.
“In the same way that the great ocean highways connect
countries and peoples with each other, this project is the result of the combined
effort of local and international people,” Futter-Puati said.
“Vaka building is a community effort that requires the
skill of many to ensure its success.”
Te Mana O te Vaka project is made possible with
funding provided by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT),
European Union, Government of Sweden as well as USP with the Pacific European
Union Marine Partnership programme.