The Traditional Cook Islands Voyaging Vaka (Canoe) the Marumaru Atua, was back in Rarotonga with some extra cargo. Taking a team of 10 volunteers, it set off for Suwarrow two weeks prior and after a 4 day voyage arrived just outside the reef of Suwarrow.
Staying for four days the crew then joined in on the Rat Eradication that had already been done by a group of ten for the past three weeks. The crew were happy to help out with the project as they too could see the benefit first hand in preserving the quality of life and especially bird life in this pristine bird sanctuary.
One of the team members on the rat eradication programme was Cook Islands Voyaging Society president Ian Karika who was on the island as part of the Te Ipukarea Society who had helped organise the programme. Karika, along with two members of BirdLife International Pacific from Fiji, a National Environment Service official and college student Ieremia Samuel set out rat bait on various motu around Suwarrow to eradicate rats on the islands.
After the four day lay over, all the Eradication staff including photographers, and Environment service staff put their hand to the job of being part of the crew to sail Marumaru Atua back to Rarotonga. With a longer trip back due to not so friendly winds, after six days of sailing the beautiful waters back from Suwarrow, Rarotonga was a beautiful sight. The crew though a little weary from the Sun and continuing shifts on watch welcomed the extra hands the Rat Eradication team provided and added to the experience of sailing a traditional voyaging canoe. With everyone home safe, the question now was whether the Vaka would go back to Suwarrow in November to pick up the two game keepers that were stationed there before the return of the hurricane season.
Marumaru Atua and her crew included captain Peia Patai, experienced sailors Jamaal Pakoti, Ti Pekepo, Sergio Lai, Lorna Nicholas-Peirre, Jason Tuara, Kura Happ and new crew Thomas Tarurongo Wynne, Teina Mackenzie and Erena Young. The crew and their passengers from Suwarrow were all glad to return to Rarotonga on Tuesday afternoon where families gathered with ei to welcome home the voyagers.