TUAMOTU ATOLL TO CELEBRATE KON TIKI ANNIVERSARY

admin's picture

PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Aug. 4) – The people of the Tuamotu atoll of Raroia will celebrate on Tuesday the 60th anniversary of the arrival of the famous raft Kon-Tiki. They are to be joined by people from the nearby atoll of Takume and a government delegation from Papeete.

[PIR editor’s note: Raroia is an atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago, located 770 kilometers east of Papeete, Tahiti. The famous exploratory raft Kon Tiki landed there in 1947. People on Raroia today sustain themselves with fish, coconuts, and revenue from pearl farming.]

The celebration is being organized by the Taatihaga Tamariki Raroia Association, which has used its Internet Web site to make the atoll 450 miles east northeast of Tahiti known as the "Kon-Tiki Island".

A commemorative plaque offered by the Kon-Tiki Museum in Norway will be installed in the main village of Raroia. The ceremonies will also officially make the city of Larvik, Norway, the sister city of the Raroia village.

Larvik is the birthplace of Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl, the leader of a 1947 voyage across the Pacific that ended on Aug. 7 when the Kon-Tiki Raft crashed on Raroia's coral barrier reef.

The raft's arrival ended a 101-day, more than 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific Ocean that began at Callao, Peru, on April 28, 1947. Heyerdahl and five friends were trying to prove that pre-Columbian people from South America could have settled Polynesia in the South Pacific.

The Kon-Tiki was built in Peru, using balsa logs and other native materials, copying a style of indigenous rafts that the Spanish conquistadores recorded in illustrations. The original Kon-Tiki is on display in the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, Norway.

Two of Heyerdahl's grandsons will participate in the Tuesday celebration on Raroia, a medium-sized, oval-shaped atoll with an unusual southwest to northeast orientation, a length of 43 kilometers (26.7 miles) and a maximum width of around 14 kilometers (8.7 miles). Air Tahiti, French Polynesia's domestic airline, inaugurated regular flights to Raroia on April 2, 2006.

Olav, one of the Heyerdahl grandsons, followed in his grandfather's footsteps last year with the Tangaroa Expedition. Olav was one of the six crewmembers led by Torgeir Higraff on a voyage from Peru to Raroia aboard the specially built raft Tangaroa.

The voyage began in April and successfully ended in July last year. While the only modern equipment aboard the Kon-Tiki consisted of a radio and watches, the Tangaroa was equipped with relatively sophisticated square sails that allowed it to sail into the wind, or tack, something the Kon-Tiki could not do.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment