Bula vinaka Turaga kei na Marama!
The Fiji Islands Voyaging Society is thrilled to be part of this truly historic voyage. For the motley crew of thirty-two crew members from all over Fiji and Rotuma, led ably by “Dau Levu”, Capt Johnathan Smith, this sail means untold blessings for ourselves as well as the people of Fiji, now and for generations to come.
As we set sail along ancient migratory routes, once again connecting our islands by canoe as our ancestors did many hundreds of years ago, let us remember a great man who recently left us.
Herb Kawainui Kane, first Captain of the Hokulea and founding member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), was a keen supporter of our young society. We pay tribute to his foresight and the PVS for leading the resurgence of traditional voyaging.
We would also like to pay homage to the great wisdom and knowledge of our forefathers who roamed the vast Pacific Ocean with phenomenal exactitude, dexterity and fearless cheer.
On behalf of the President, Prime Minister, respected chiefs and elders, the people of Fiji and the captain and crew of the Uto ni Yalo, I want to sincerely thank Dieter Paulmann and the Okeanos Foundation for making this all possible. I would also like to acknowledge our partners IUCN, WWF and sponsors.
Photo Insert: (L)The late Herb Kawainui Kane. (R) Painting of the Fijian Drua by Herb Kane.
A Fijian Story
The Fiji Islands Voyaging Society is proud to be a part of a Pacific Renaissance seeking to recapture knowledge, traditions and values of our rich maritime history. Some of our more immediate goals are:
CANOE CULTURE : Revive and sustain traditional Fijian canoe building, sailing and navigational knowledge, skills and customs. Undertake open ocean voyages along ancient Pacific migratory routes and help re-establish historic ties and significant cultural links with people all over the Pacific
ENVIRONMENT: Advocate sustainable development and preservation of the Fiji and Rotuma’s marine and land environment through resource renewal and public education programs, by working alongside government and both public and private organisations with similar goals and objectives
ARTS + CRAFT: Advocate rediscovery and preservation of traditional arts such as customs, craftmanship, song, dance and other non-tangible assets
The Fijian canoe is named Uto ni Yalo which quite literally translates ’Heart of Spirit.’ Having said that, the Fijian language - not unlike languages in the Pacific - is filled with poetic expressions that sometimes contain complex or abstract ideas which lose some if not all of it’s intended meaning when interpreted literally. Uto Ni Yalo can be best described as the spiritual state of original being.
Is the Uto ni Yalo a Fijian Drua? You guessed right - it is not if you are talking about its design. The Uto Ni Yalo is a fusion of traditional central Pacific canoe design utilizing modern boat-building materials and technologies. Together the other six other canoes, the Uto ni Yalo was built with the generous support of Okeanos in Auckland at Salthouse Boatbuilders. These newly designed sailing canoe (vaka moana [Pacific]/waka hourua [Maori]) are all constructed of e-glass and foam using advanced infusion processes, yet traditional ingenuity and knowledge remain clearly visible with the twin hulls cunningly connected by wooden beams, lashed only with rope. Each vaka is finished with intricate traditional designs, carved and painted using colours and insignia representative of each nation.
Much effort and detail has gone into creating a truly eco-friendly vaka that harnesses just wind and current to travel. To aid maneuvering in tight modern berthing stations or making harbor entries, a solar powered system serves as an auxiliary propulsion option. This merging of past and the present ideas, serves as a useful metaphor for solutions to our planet’s energy and climate change issues.
The Fiji Islands Voyaging Society have ambitions to build the magnificent Drua in the near future.
We invite interested individuals or organisations to be part of our family. Please visit fijivoyaging.com for more information.