Day 9 – Kia Orana from Akatokamanava! On Tuesday, we arrived to a breathtaking welcome and kiriti marōtai ceremony from our beautiful people. It was an awesome homecoming for me and Captain Peia Patai – sons of this island of our ancestor ‘Uke.
After settling in, our Tāua e Moana team of freedivers had the opportunity to go out on the fore reef to examine the status after the Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau team had come earlier this year in March and removed around 120 taramea via freediving concentrated on the leeward or west side of the island around the harbour area.
We knew we didn’t complete the task in March due to limited time, so I was curious to see what the taramea situation was this time around. The good news is we only removed nine taramea, which was great to know that we had saved the reefs from being killed back in March by the removal we had carried out then. We were hosted by the Makatea Areora community for a feast in the evening, and our presentation to the community followed which was well received with the strong focus on education of our future generations.
Today (Wednesday), we collected a taramea to use as part of KO’s ocean health awareness with the students of Mauke School at the school grounds, which we conducted with our partners. The school invited us warmly with a few cultural items. The CI Voyaging Society did their presentation on the practical side of sailing on the vaka by teaching rope ties, cleating, and other sailing knowledge. Te Ipukarea Society presented about plastic pollution and other threats to our ocean and their Maine Mura project. We also took the opportunity to showcase the video highlights of the islands that we have visited so far in the northern group as well as Atiu and Mitiaro.
Following the school presentations, students got to experience going on vaka Marumaru Atua which they really enjoyed. In the evening, we were hosted by Ngati Arua with a feast. It was a proud moment shared in the speeches by the people of Mauke to welcome myself – a doctor of Marine Biology – and Captain Peia – a Pwo Navigator the highest traditional navigation title bestowed upon him by the father of traditional voyaging revival, Papa Mau Pialug of Satawal – who have come home to Mauke with our people’s vaka. We were very moved and humbled.
Later in the day, some of our ‘Ātui’anga ki te Tango boys visited the cave Vai Tango to explore a bit of Ma’uke while we can. We are all looking forward to tomorrow (today) where we will have a relaxing day as our activities are done. Our team will continue with interviews with our elders to collect traditional knowledge on fisheries, climate change, and marine-related issues. Once the winds are favourable, Captain Peia will sail us on to our last island for the Pa ‘Enua Tonga leg of our Tāua e Moana voyage – Mangaia.
– Dr Teina Rongo