The Cook Islands Voyaging Society Inc was established as a non-profit organisation in 1992 after the 6th Pacific Arts Festival held on Rarotonga, Cook Islands. The Society was registered in September 1993 and the registered office is c/o The Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Development.
The vaka ‘Te Au o Tonga’ was built by the Cook Islands Voyaging Society, under the leadership of the canoe builder & designer, Sir Thomas Davis, in 1994 - to participate in a joint voyage with other Polynesian canoes to Hawaii and as a vessel to carry out the aims of the Cook Islands Voyaging Society (CIVS).
The aims in the Constitution of the Cook Islands Voyaging Society are to:
Recover and relearn knowledge, skills and traditions about constructing traditional Cook Islands ocean voyaging canoes.
Cook Islands voyaging heritage.
Building mastery in the canoe building arts.
Training of crew to safely and successfully complete an ocean voyage throughout the Pacific.
To recruit young people from throughout the Cook Islands to be trained in the skills of canoe building, sailing and celestial navigation.
The objectives are to:
Perpetuate this knowledge through a masters and apprenticeship program.
Validate the findings of the project by successfully undertaking and completing open ocean voyages along ancient migratory routes.
Perpetuate and preserve the knowledge, skills, practices and traditions generated by this project through a broad range of educational programs and made part of the Cook Islands education curriculum.
Develop pride and appreciation for Cook Islands voyaging heritage and accomplishments of Cook Islands voyaging people today through communications and dissemination of information about the project.
Sixty-five members from a cross section of the community make up the Voyaging Society and the Executive Committee is made up of:
5 Elected Executive Members
Secretary of Cultural Development (ex-official)
The Society is actively engaged in raising awareness of its activities & aims and has spearheaded many successful campaigns such as:
The construction, in 1994, of a 72’ replica of a Polynesian double hulled voyaging canoe ‘Te Au O Tonga’.
The inaugural return round voyage in 1995 to Raiatea, Tahiti, Nuku Hiva, Hawaii, Molokai and Oahu of ‘Te Au O Tonga’.
August 1995, Te Au O Tonga sailed as part of the protest fleet to Moruroa.
In 1996, the voyage of ‘Te Au O Tonga’ to the VII Pacific Arts Festival in Samoa and then on to Tonga and New Zealand and return voyage to Cook Islands.
Voyage to the 2000 Millennium celebrations in Gisborne, NZ in 1999.
To the VIII Pacific Arts Festival in New Caledonia in 2000.
Voyage in 2002, to Tahiti, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Borabora, Mitiaro and return.
2002, a short trip to Aitutaki for ‘Te Au O Tonga’ to participate in movie “The Legend of Johnny Lingo”.
In 2005 we had 5 tropical Cyclones ravage the Cook Islands and cause considerable damage to our Vaka, "the mother".
With huge support from the community and very generous anonymous donors we were able to repair her and sail to Pagopago in 2008.
In 2010 5 Vaka sailed a journey which took some of them from Ao tea roa (NZ) to Tahiti, and via Rarotonga, they returned to their various home Islands, including Samoa, Tonga and NZ.
Today 2011 the Cook Islands have Vaka Marumaru Atua ready to sail to Hawaii with 6 other Vaka.