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Pacific Voyagers to ‘preserve and develop tradition’


APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Mar 18, 2009) - Samoa is among seven Pacific island groups who are mounting a joint effort to preserve and develop our tradition of ocean voyaging by double-hulled canoe.

It follows an agreement reached in Auckland last month to form Pacific Voyagers, a pan-Pacific network of voyaging societies.

The Pacific Voyagers’ network includes voyaging groups in Samoa, American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti and Tonga.

The participating groups intend to celebrate the formation of Pacific Voyagers by assembling a fleet of seven ocean-going canoes at Raratonga in the Cook Islands in April 2010 for a voyage to Hawai΄i at the invitation of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Makali΄i Voyaging Society.

Announcing the development, the participating groups acknowledged the work of New Zealand actor, whale protection advocate and star of the internationally-acclaimed film Whalerider, Rawiri Paratene, in negotiating its formation.

"We wish to acknowledge Rawiri’s inspiration and his achievement in gaining international funding and support that will help us broaden our effort to preserve and develop the ocean voyaging traditions of our ancestors," says a joint statement issued by the participating groups.

The Pacific Voyagers’ network project has won funding and support from the Okeanos foundation, an international philanthropic organization based in Germany, formed with the objective of protecting the ocean environment and marine life.

The foundation says it recognizes that Polynesian ocean voyaging traditions are strongly founded on high standards of ecological sensitivity.

It is delighted to be able to support a project that will preserve the traditions and build awareness of practices that will enhance the oceanic environment.

Tuatagaloa Joe for those interested.

Project manager for the Pacific Voyagers’ network project is Te Aturangi Nepia-Clamp, an experienced ocean voyager who has completed many long distance international voyages by double-hulled canoe at the invitation of Hekenukumai Busby and the late Sir Thomas Davis.

The seven participating island groups in Pacific Voyagers have agreed to the construction of the canoe hulls and operating infrastructure to a common design based on traditional concepts.

They have also agreed to a program of certification, training and qualification of crews to ensure that high safety standards are observed during ocean voyaging.

Construction of the first of the fleet of seven new ocean-going canoes has already commenced in Auckland.

It is expected to be launched in Auckland at the end of the month, and will be used to provide initial training for crews from the island groups participating in the Pacific voyaging network.

Once Pacific Voyagers’ entry qualifications have been fulfilled, the hulls of the other six canoes will be shipped to the voyaging groups in the participating islands to be completed in accordance with local voyaging traditions and customs.

The Okeanos foundation is funding the construction of the canoes and providing them at no cost to the participating groups for a period of four years to enable them to establish their own voyaging operations on a self-sustaining basis.

Each participating group will be able to obtain ownership of their canoe for a nominal price during or at the end of the four year establishment period.

The Samoa Voyaging Society was first formed back in the 70s when the construction of an Alia/Va’atele was considered a way of reviving the old skills of canoe carving and the lost art of voyaging by the stars.

"Funding was the major constraint and the offer by Okeanos is the answer to our prayers," said Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale, one of the founders of the Society.

Tuatagaloa further stated that the local Society had much to do before the Canoe is delivered and at it’s recent meeting , plans for the Society’s ‘way forward’ on this exciting project were discussed.

Anyone who may be interested in joining the Society is welcome to contact either Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale on 777-3949 or John Misky on 726-8392.

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