| || Tua Pittman |
Tua is the manager of Terminal Services for Air Rarotonga but he balances this with the request of his teachers, Master Navigators Mau Piailug and Nainoa Thompson, to perpetuate and teach traditional navigational skills to crewmembers of the Pacific. He started in 1986 as crew of vaka Hokulea. Tua wants “to highlight to the rest of the world, through these canoes, that the Pacific Islands people are concerned about the condition of the oceans that they live in and concerned about what effects the practices of the worlds leading nations are having on our ocean…one of our main food sources. I want to highlight the fact that the creatures of the ocean and their habitat must be cared for and protected from the pollution and misuse by larger nations…Pacific Islands people have been caring for centuries…it’s a part of our culture.”
| || Peia Patai |
Captain of Te Marumaru Atua, Peia has also worked as a patrol boat navigator with the Rarotongan police. He has been navigating on vaka since 1991 and has had the honour of training with master navigator and teacher of traditional wayfinding methods Mau Piailug and Nainoa Thompson. His aim is “to spread the knowledge of traditional navigation. We don’t want to lose it again. And to let people be aware of their actions that are slowly killing our Pacific Ocean (Te Moana Nui o Kiva). The ocean indicates how healthy we are as a Pacific people. It’s very important that we protect our ocean for the benefit of our children and their children. Without our ocean our people will die that’s for sure.”
| || Ian Karika |
Ian is President of the Cook Islands Voyaging Society and has had wide experience with environmental organisations. They include being president of an environmental NGO, project manager of a native bird sanctuary, chairman of the governments Environment Authority and councilor at a convention on migratory species. The NGO, Te Ipukarea Society, is currently undertaking a campaign against fishing vessels carrying out purse seine fishing in the Cook Islands. Ian’s involvement with this project goes way back; he was vaka construction manager. His dream to voyage the oceans as his ancestor Karika Taraape (circa 1250) did is met with this voyage, which also matches his deep involvement in conservation work. Ian says that we need to protect the habitat of sea creatures, and seek collaboration with other Pacific Nations and the Pacific Rim countries to achieve total protection. He says the aim should be to find new and innovative technology to reverse climate change and eliminate noise pollution. “The Cook Islands Government have pledged to be powered by 50% renewable energy by 2015 and 100% by 2020, my hope is that we achieve these goals.” Ian says that he comes from several Chiefly families on Rarotonga and traditional knowledge, genealogies and protocols were a large part of his education and upbringing. This knowledge will add to the other rich sources onboard Marumaru Atua.
| || Jamaal Pakoti |
Jah, a planter, has been crew on 3 vaka since 2009. He says he is fortunate to be involved in this once in a lifetime project with a noble cause. “This is a perfect way to be an ambassador for the C.I on the platform of our own traditional vaka. I am hoping to gain as much cultural and spiritual knowledge in voyaging as I can from my elders on board, so when my time comes I can pass on this same knowledge to future generations. It’s distressing to know that marine life numbers and ecosystem health is declining. I feel protecting the sea and her creatures is not just a view, but a common duty for everyone. My goal is to carry that message as a young man to the world….or at least the larger countries that we visit.” Jah is excited about this voyage, "we cannot see into the future, but for me it will be exciting".
| || Harry Goodwin |
Harry has been a builder, chef and part of Captain Tama’s crew in Rarotonga. He has left all that to join Marumaru Atua. Harry says he is interested in this project because it exalts his tupuna (ancestors) who had the knowledge of sailing the oceans, which has now brought the Polynesian, Melanesian and Micronesian people together. Harry sees the whales every year as they migrate through the islands, and he feels strongly about protecting marine life. He doesn’t want his kids or their kids to have to go to a library to look at whales or dolphins in books because they no longer exist. He hopes that soon man will understand the depth of the damage being done to our Mother Earth and start making changes before its too late. From the day he could walk “I was introduced to my culture through singing/dancing/traditional chanting, and this is another part of my input into this voyage.”
| || Nick Henry |
Radio DJ and videographer Nick has voyaged to Pagopago for the Festival of Arts in 2008 and is a RYA Ocean Skipper. He is interested in learning traditional navigational skills as well as the “opportunity to unite the nations of the Pacific in one voice and yell to the world…’stop hurting Mother Earth’.” Nick has assisted with campaigns for recycling waste, Greenpeace awareness camapigns, and produced a TV doco on traditional weather forecasting. “Growing up in and on the sea is natural to Pacific Islanders. Away from the sounds of the ocean we have a void. We all have a role to play to protect our Ocean friends. The legend of Paihea ‘whale rider” stems from 2 Islands where our family is from.” Nick hopes that we learn from recent events in Christchurch and Fukushima and dreams “that we start to place less importance on material things and learn to recognize the important but simple things in life….water, shelter, family, friendship, and Love.”
| || Rakeimata Koronui |
Koro is a veteran voyager with sails as far back as 1992 on Hokulea from Tahiti to Rarotonga. He has also sailed on Te Au O Tonga, Marumaru Atua and O Tahiti Nui Freedom. He describes himself as a man of the ocean, that the ocean is his home and that it has always been his wish to be on the ocean that he respects so much. “We from the island of Atiu have always cared for our moana (ocean) and her animals….our spirits are one….I want this to continue with my people.” Koro says that it is through voyaging in the old way that he honours his forefathers.
| || Steven Daniels |
Steve is a planter and fisherman and has voyaged on Te Au O Tonga three times, starting in 1995 with a sail from Rarotonga to Hawaii and back, via Tahiti and the Marquesas. Steve loves the ocean and wants to let the world know that we need to care for it. He spends a lot of time looking after the sacred passage Avana in Rarotonga, keeping her clean and fishing from her waters. ‘This is where the seven canoes left Rarotonga and headed for Aotearoa way back in the olden days…and that legend is still very much alive in our custom. It is so great that once again we have seven canoes on this voyage.” Steve says that dolphins, whales and turtles come and visit him all the time there and it’s a beautiful feeling.
| || Patrick Arona |
Patrick has sailed throughout the Cook Islands on Vaka Te Au O Tonga, graduating with a class of young trainees. He says that the Cook Islands Voyaging Society and sailing on traditional canoes, has changed his life and made him a better person. “Spending time and rubbing shoulders with traditional navigators and crew members is an awesome feeling, I couldn’t have wished for anything better to happen to me in my life…..my girlfriend has just had a baby and I am over the moon…I will teach my child what I learn from this experience.” Patrick is happy to be a part of a project that expresses the idea that the Pacific people care about the ocean.
| || Sam Jean-Dominique Napa |
Sam clocked up 12,000 nautical miles on vakas in 2010. He finds it a great feeling to be involved with the vaka family and the sharing of cultures and to travel the way our ancestors did. “My mother was one of the first women from the Cooks to voyage and is the Paramount Queen of Takitimu.” The grandson of 2 Paramount Chiefs, Sam never thought he would become an ocean lover. ”Legends were told in schools about the great navigators of old. I always wondered how our ancestors sailed this big ocean of ours and now I know how they did it. The places I have been to in one year are amazing. So much abuse in the oceans and lands. It makes you appreciate the beauty of our home islands.”
| || Teresa Tararo |
Teresa has worked in education a long time and now is a Distance Education Coordinator. She has a big personal interest in the ocean and hopes her daughter will choose to study marine biology and herself get the opportunity to work in a ‘marine’ type field. “The increasing damage humans are doing to the ocean is disgusting and I want to be included in educating people (especially our own people) of the harmful effects our negative actions have on the ocean and Mother Earth as a whole and how we can assist with healing her. There has been a significant increase in reported strandings (whales and dolphins) linked to noise pollution. The sad thing is, humans continue to pollute the ocean despite all the warnings. Many choose to have selective hearing. We got to keep plodding at it though.”
| || Alex Teariki Olah |
Alley, a business manager, has his Boat Masters certificate and been crew on The Spirit of New Zealand. He is eager to learn as much as he can from his vaka and cultural leaders Captain Peia Patai and Navigator Tua Pittman. He wants “to experience the cultural part of our Voyage, to see and feel first hand a taste of what our ancestors went through to settle our Pacific Islands, to deeply feel and relate to my Cook Island heritage. The sea and all within it are hugely important to our world, our ecosystems and our continued co-existence. They need to be protected and nurtured to the best of our human ability. I hope to be able to represent my country well and do my family, village and my country proud. My personal motto is ‘if you’re going to do something, do it well.’”
| || Angelie Robinson |
“My family used to joke when I was young, I am a water baby, born for a life which revolves around the sea. My passion is the sea and everything within. I studied to be a marine biologist and sat a range of tickets which would allow me to have a life at sea aboard any vessel.” Angelie is a NZ born and bred part Cook Islander who has always struggled with her identity and craved to come back to her roots in the islands. She stayed in CI on her last sail from NZ so she could learn more about the way of life there. “For me, if this project means sailing around, learning about my culture, being close to my ancestors and on top of that being part of a greater purpose to create awareness and educate about having a lesser impact on the environment and the marine life, then I am in 110% all the way!”
| || James Pakoti |
Athlete and student Jay, has sailed on the Spirit of Adventure New Zealand. Jay wants to be part of this project “to represent my country and my people on a voyaging canoe of the people.” He says he is “disturbed to hear the whales and dolphins are being mistreated and hurt, therefore I have strong views on protecting the sea and sea creatures.” Culture and tradition have been a big part of Jay’s life and he is looking forward to the sharing of knowledge with his fellow crewmembers, vaka voyagers and others along the way.
| || Lin Andrew |
Lin was crew on the Vaka Te Au o Tonga to Samoa in 1996, representing C.I at the South Pacific Arts Festival. A draughts person and former prison officer, Lin says that you are not born with cultural heritage and tradition, rather you are educated and taught it from a young age. “As an outrigger paddler, I paddle the lagoons and oceans of other Pacific Islands; and it’s very sad to see the destruction of the water quality due to pollution. Awareness and education are key factors towards combating some of these problems. My forefathers sailed into folklore and founded island dynasties; I sail with my ancestors perched on my shoulders with high hopes that these island nations can enjoy the same quality of life they used to.” Lin says she is privileged to see the whales playing for 3-4 months every year and wants others to feel the awe and immenseness the sightings bring her.
| || Brown Apera Pori Makea |
I began my voyaging in 2008 on board Te Au O Tonga from Rarotonga to PagoPago for the 10th south pacific performing arts festival, then onto Niue. 2011 I am voyaging from Rarotonga to Tahiti and onto Hawaii. In Rarotonga I am a tour guide with captain Tama's cruises and also work as a volunteer with our Cook Islands Whale Research organisation. From August to November we monitor the whales migration through our waters. Man must stop whaling altogether and protect our ancient tupuna, our whales, turtles and dolphins for our children and their children. “Like my other brothers and sisters on this voyage, I am here to help protect our Ocean family. Together with our other vaka families, we will be heard!” I am keen to learn this ancient art, during my journey I will sit, listen and learn more about my Pacific traditions, custom and culture. As I travel from one Pacific Island to another, it highlights my love for my homeland even more.
| || June Simiona |
An offshore banking officer at home, Junesy cut her teeth on Vaka Te Au O Tonga in 2003 when she sailed to Tahiti and back. This voyage helps her fulfill her goal of living life to its fullest. Junesy is taking part in honour of her parents and those before them. “My father is a Mataiapo (Chief). He has lived his life with traditional and cultural protocols…I have learnt from him that ‘to succeed in life, you must know who you are and where you come from.’ I am a Cook Islander and I am proud of it. I am sailing the ocean, using the wind, Sun and Stars, just as my forefathers have…I am learning and I will teach those after me.” She says she knows she can make a difference to overfishing and the other problems the ocean faces by spreading the word with her Pacific family on this voyage.
| || Sarah Moreland |
Sarah is the Marketing and Revenue Manager of Air Rarotonga Ltd. She was born in Australia and grew up in Canada but now resides on beautiful Rarotonga. Inspired by co-worker and chief navigator Tua Pittman, it was in 2008 that she had her first experience on a vaka – Te Au O Tonga. This extended her passion for Cook Island culture to include traditional voyaging and celestial navigation. Since then she has completed her Boatmasters Certificate and sailed on Marumaru Atua. Well aware of the challenges she will face not only for her body but mind also, she wants to learn as much as she can from senior crew members and experience what her ancestors went through. "As a pacific islander the ocean is very important to me. We need to concentrate on protecting all sea creatures and their habitat. We also need to raise awareness worldwide and make everyone realize what they are doing to our planet and ocean.”
| || Lorna Nicholas |
Lorna is a voyager. She has lived in Australia, New Zealand and Rarotonga and been crew on Te Au O Tonga vaka in 2002 to many islands around the Pacific. “Voyaging on a vaka is a part of my culture. My genealogy connects me to our forefathers that travelled the Pacific for discovery. Our family holds chief titles in our village of Avana, Ngatangiia where the vakas departed for NZ in the early century. The sea is my backyard. From my house I can see, smell and hear the ocean. I need to help protect my paradise for the next generations to come. I am really against the killing of whales and other creatures for research. This research we don’t need.”
| || Potai Ta'amaru |
Potai will be experiencing an extended yoyage for the first time on Marumaru Atua. He says “I am on this voyage to stand my ground and to let all know that I care! Together with our vaka families we will make a difference.” He is keen to “maintain and promote our concerns worldwide regarding the sea, marine life and environment.” With his great enthusiasm he is ready to show and share his culture with the rest of the world and learn about others. Potai has his sights set on being captain of a vaka himself one day.
| || Nan Hauser |
Nan is a whale biologist and has previously been President at the Center for Cetacean Research and Director at Cook Islands Whale Research. She has spent 5594 research hours on the water, sailing 12,982 miles. “I was brought up on a Quaker Wildlife Preserve where we lived strongly by three words: Sincerity, Simplicity and Service “ (to the world). Nan has dedicated her life to protecting the sea and her creatures and wants “to inspire others to take leadership in protecting the Oceans and all of its inhabitants.” She teaches a 6-week course on the man made problems the ocean faces. “Creating whale sanctuaries and marine protected parks is of the utmost importance. Fighting with hard core, excellent science is also what I do. Anger and retaliation don’t work for me. Science, truth, education and compassion work well.” Nan finds “the vaka silent and beautiful. It represents the past, the truth, courage, wisdom, the fearless ocean explorers.”
| || Pauly Mangakahia |
Pauly has been, among other things, an arbourist, salvage diver, boat builder, welder and contractor. He has voyaged on vaka from NZ to French Polynesia and Rarotonga and sailed in a yacht from California to Catalina Island. His hands were part of the team that built this vaka, which cemented his desire to be a part of this project. Pauly believes we are only caretakers here and that we must keep the planet clean and keep it green. He set up a glass crusher for the recycling centre, brought in environmentally friendly water tanks and septic tanks and volunteers for the Cook Island Whale Research. “What man does to the circle of this planet, the planet will do to the circle of man. Our children are our future.”
| || Peter Tierney |
Peter loves the sea and sailing. He has been a National team representative at junior and adult levels and worked as a sailing instructor. Now he is a Development Programme Coordinator. He absolutely believes the sea and its creatures need protection and understanding. “In my work and private life I strive to make the world a better place. For the Pacific, the ocean is the source of life. We must act to protect it by developing mutually beneficial behaviours that benefit both people and nature. This is put gracefully by the CI traditional belief ‘that we belong to the sea’, not the other way around.” Peter wants to “assist the Cook Islands develop towards sustainable economic models that respect the environment, provide opportunities for people to achieve their social aspirations and participate in resolving the challenges of my generation…i.e. climate change. My vision is for the CI to become a role model for larger countries.”
| || Margaret Meyer |
Margaret has sailed on a 50ft yacht as well as with Marumaru Atua on 2 voyages in 2010. An interest in reviving the history that took place when the ancestors sailed the 7 canoes together drew her to this project and she would love to impart the knowledge of celestial navigation to her children and future generations. Margaret says that “as a Cook Islander born and raised, it is our culture to treat the ocean with great respect because it is our life-support system that sustains us. Our connection with the marine environment is of great importance to our culture, spiritual and social lives.” This, she says, is passed on to the children through prayers, singing, dances, chants, legends and story telling. This knowledge Margaret holds, and feels obligated to impart to others.