Rarotonga will receive Vaka Motu Okeanos Waa’Qab which departed Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, on September 10 for the 3000 nautical mile voyage estimated to take up to a month.
Okeanos Waa’Qab is under the command of Pwo master
navigator Captain Jerry Joseph, who grew up on the island of Satawal learning
the skills of traditional navigation from his grandfather, the renowned
grandmaster navigator Mau Piailug.
Second in charge on the voyage is veteran Cook Islands
voyager Steven Daniel (Tupaia) joined by the crew of young 16-year-old Pareu
Pera from Ngatangiia (Cook Islands), Pounamu Tipiwai-Chambers (Aotearoa), Raus
Clyde and Vickson Yalisman from Yap, FSM and Alice Mason (Spain).
The vaka to be used as a training vessel in the
revival of traditional voyaging skills will make one stop in Samoa before
making its final journey to the Cook Islands.
Okeanos fleet commander, the Cook Islands Pwo master
navigator Peia Patai was unable to join the crew on this voyage since having to
meet several vaka related duties and responsibilities in Micronesia after a two-year
lapse caused by the Covid outbreak.
Pwo master navigators the Cook Islands Captain Peia Patai, and FSM’s Captain Jerry Joseph onboard Vaka Motu Okeanos Waa’Qab before her departure from Pohnpei. SUPPLIED/22091201
“It was hard to hold back tears as I watched the canoe
depart the harbour of Kolonia, Pohnpei (FSM). Tears of happiness and tears of
excitement, knowing that Te Puna Marama’s future to pass on, revive and
preserve traditional voyaging knowledge is now in a better place,” said Patai
on the morning Vaka Motu sailed off from Phonpei.
“Regrettably, I was unable to sail her to the Cook
Islands due to other vaka commitments here in Micronesia, however, I’m very
much looking forward to seeing her arrive in Rarotonga. Thank you to Okeanos
Captain Jerry Joseph for navigating her home.”
The vaka will be based in the Cook Islands and will be
a huge benefit to young people who are passionate and keen to learn the art of
traditional sailing and navigation, said Patai.
“She will be used as a training vessel and will also assist
with the revival of other traditional skills that are slowly disappearing, I
believe the canoe is the centre of our tradition and culture.”
Patai acknowledged and extended his appreciation to Dieter
Paulmann and Okeanos Foundation for the Sea for their full support in
delivering the canoe to the Cook Islands for Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation.
Okeanos has been developing and funding projects that
inspire and initiate positive change for people and the environment – while
increasing awareness of the threats the oceans face.
Te Puna Marama has a long-term goal to open pathways
for career opportunities in the maritime sector for our young people in both
modern and traditional ways, said Patai.
“Without his (Dieter Paulmann) support this
opportunity would not come about.”
The 50-foot, twin-hulled open-ocean sailing canoe Vaka
Motu has a design based on a traditional Polynesian model and is the third
built by Auckland’s Lloyd Stevenson Boatbuilders.
Described as the “work boat of the Pacific”, the vaka
weighs nine tons and can accommodate 11 people and three tons of cargo.
Te Puna Marama Voyaging Foundation trustees Cecile
Marten, Tua Pittman and Maara Maeva would like to thank and acknowledge Patai
for his “hard work, commitment and persistence” in ensuring the foundation
acquires a vaka to run its education programmes.
Secretary Cecile Marten said hard work begins now to
formalise the training programmes and to look for funding to run these programmes
throughout the Cook Islands and establish a training centre in Aitutaki.
There are only 12 Pwo master navigators from the north
and south Pacific, and two are from the Cook Islands – Peia Patai and Tua
Pittman – a huge accomplishment for a tiny country.
Patai and Pittman both trained under the wise guidance
and teachings of Mau Piailug.
Pwo is a sacred initiation ritual, in which students
of traditional navigation in the Caroline Islands in Micronesia become
navigators (palu) and are initiated in the associated secrets.