Marumaru Atua

The Cook Island Voyaging Society is committed to reviving traditional ocean navigation to the families and visitors of the Cook Islands by inviting the community to join them in learning the traditional skills and stories involved with the history of our Pacific navigators. We are extremely fortunate to have our beautiful vaka, Marumaru Atua to not only be a vessel for our people, but a vessel of traditional knowledge and ocean navigation.

The Marumaru Atua is the only Cook Islands traditional canoe that is operated today. We strongly encourage everyone to join the Cook Island Voyaging Society in the revitalisation of our ancient voyaging roots so that we may ensure the growth and development of the next generation of navigators. We invite you to surf in the wake of our vaka as we move forward.

The History That Marumaru Atua Floats Upon

Pa Tuterangi Ariki the late Sir Thomas Davis

Sir Thomas Davis built the first Vaka Moana, Te Au O Tonga in 1994 in Rarotonga/Cook Islands, and essentially, our  Vaka Moana  recreated at Salthouse Boatbuilders in Auckland, New Zealand, are following these same lines and are based on the traditional double-hulled Polynesian sailing canoe design.

However, in contrast to traditional vaka with hulls made of one big tree trunk, our hulls are made of E-Glass and Epoxy Resin. Our Vaka Moana has a set of traditional crab claw booms and a set of offshore rights with reefable Bermuda sails for safety during long voyages. The revival of traditional voyaging in the Pacific using majestic ocean voyaging double-hulled canoes was largely due to Papa Tom.

Few could match his skill as a traditional navigator, designer and builder of these great ocean going canoes. He designed and built three ocean voyaging vaka, Takitumu, Te Au O Tonga and finally, when he was in his eighties, a 24 metre vaka for Te Wananga O Aotearoa. He became an honorary Professor of Polynesian Migration and Culture with Te Wananga O Aotearoa

For this reason our starboard hull is called Pa Tuterangi Ariki and bow sprit carved with the sun, Te Ra – a tribute to the late Sir Thomas Davis for his wisdom and dedication towards our voyaging. Our port hull is called Te Tika O Te Tuaine and the bow sprit has carved the moon, or Te Marama –  this hull being a tribute to the Late Te Tika Mataiapo, Dorice Reid who was a steadfast powerful lady in our voyaging.

Our A’au or lashings have been dedicated to all those who have pledged in our fundraiser, many names to mention from all walks of life in our Cook Islands communities as well as Hawaiian Voyaging societies. We are humbled by you allowing us to carry your mana with us; a plaque will be carved and attached to the vaka for us to carry where ever our vaka goes.

Building the Vaka Moana

“When the idea emerged of building seven traditional Vaka for crossing the Pacific within a year, we had no idea of how to start. Fortunately we found Greg Salthouse and Nick Peal to take up the challenge. They helped us to take the best of the ancient design and knowledge and mix it with today’s experience and materials to create the best outcome. All of the seven Vaka have been built with one mould. Their fiberglass-hulls are a tribute to the environment; they are robust without having cut a single tree.  All beams are connected to the hulls through traditional lashings. They require no use of fossil energy as they are purely wind and solar powered. At the same time they are fostering cultural revival, educational opportunities and community empowerment.

We appreciate Nick Peal’s contribution to the newly designed centerboard as well as to the shape of the sails; they were adapted with modern knowledge of sailing, and interestingly they are meeting very ancient shapes again. One year after this huge project started all seven Vaka were indeed completed. Now they are ready to cross the entire Ocean in beauty and dignity. They can now make a stand for the heath and integrity of the ocean and reconnect all the Pacific people to it. Without the expertise of the Salthouse team we wouldn’t have been able to reach this goal, and the generous aronui of our philanthropist and benefactor Mr. Dieter Paulman – Okeanos – Foundation for the Sea and ONP (Ocean Noise Production).

Marumaru Atua
Marumaru Atua after her refit and paint job in Okahu Bay Auckland, ready to sail to Rarotonga

The revival of marumaru atua (2019)

After the devastating fire that plagued Marumaru Atua in September 2017, with the assistance from [add supporters: shipping company, sponsors, Te Toki etc.], the Cook Island Voyaging Society was able to salvage and dismantle the vaka and send her to New Zealand for repair in 2019. Stored for repair at the boat building company, Lloyd Stevensons, workers and local volunteers dedicated their time to help restore her (the vaka) back to life. This involved an incredible amount of work in and behind the scenes where people helped as much as they could. Captain Peia Patai supervised the care and effort into Marumaru Atua’s revival.

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