Blue skies with a warm breeze, a tila (a type of chant) performed by the young Pukapukan team and numerous family and friends, said goodbye to Vaka Marumaru Atua and her crew at Avarua harbour yesterday morning.
The vaka was scheduled to depart on the weekend.
“We were expecting north easterly winds, so that was the delay,” said Captain Peia Patai.
“We were hoping for good winds because we are going south easterly, then we would rather have a north easterly or south westerly wind to have a beam reach because of some of the inexperienced crew that we are taking.
“There is no choice, we have to leave and expect to arrive at Mangaia in 24 hours. Just in time for the investiture of the new Numangatini Ariki.”
Mangaia is the closest island to Rarotonga but it is the hardest place to get to because of the prevailing winds (always south easterly) at this time, so the crew will tack their way in.
“I’m proud to take on the voyage and the young men from Pukapuka for the first time and hopefully we will have a future crew in them, so that is exciting,” Patai added.
On board were eight crew (including Patai) from the Voyaging Society and eight from the Pukapuka community chartered group.
Kirianu (Dash) Nio, the president of the Pukapuka community on Rarotonga, said this is the first time they have managed to have a Pukapuka crew on board the national vaka.
This was possible with the support from Maria Tuoro of Te Marae Maoana.
“We wanted to be represented at the Numangatini investiture on behalf of our Ariki Pakitonga Tetio and our community.”
Cook Islands Voyaging Society board member Nooroa (Bim) Tou, who oversees the day to day business operations of the vaka, was pleased “everything has finally fallen into place”.
The six Kavana (Aronga Mana) of Mangaia have elected Tangi Tereapii to take on the role of Numangatini Ariki, he will be invested with the title on Friday August 28.
Cook Islands Voyaging Society crew on the Rarotonga-Mangaia-Rarotonga leg are: Captain Peia Patai, Tiana Elle Haxton, Maurai Villa, and Ana Maine. Crew for Rarotonga-Mangaia Deon Wong, Henry Koteka, Terii Pittman, Sam Napa; Mangaia-Rarotonga Evangelene Wong, Byron Brown, Shane Warren, and Mata Taneao.
The Pukapuka Community crew for Rarotonga-Mangaia-Rarotonga are: Romani Katoa, Rimaika Matita, Osolai Maximilian Kolbe Akai, Ngametua Tariau, Afa Bahn Nooroto, Mia Teaurima, Nooroa Ngametua, Junior James Auora, and Dr Philadelphia Ngarua.