TĀUA E MOANA – OCEAN & I
The work for Tāua e Moana has started for the Northern Cook Islands with our first stop on the beautiful island of Penrhyn, also known as Tongareva and Māngarongaro. Tāua e Moana is a collaboration effort between three NGOs within the Cook Islands: Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau, Te Ipukarea Society, and the Cook Islands Voyaging Society. While the main objective of Tāua e Moana is to bring Ocean awareness to the Pa ‘Enua Tokerau (e.g., fisheries, deep-sea mining, climate change impacts, plastic pollution, etc.), the team will also be gathering throughout the voyage information on traditional knowledge on voyaging and various fisheries, researching on taxonomy and thermal resilience among corals, researching on micro-plastics in our ocean, conducting surveys on sea bird, promoting awareness on women’s health, and more. For Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau, this has also been an amazing opportunity for us to teach our ‘Ātui’anga ki te Tango senior students on this voyage and connect them with their natural environment, ways of their tupuna, and families in the northern group. Since Aitutaki, I have seen these young men morph into better individuals, and very keen to learn.
The trip from Aitutaki to Penrhyn has been one of much learning for the team regarding navigation using the various elements of nature, biological aspects of our ocean, and the climate. It also highlighted the disappointing reality of our offshore fisheries, and how to deal with the personality dynamics among individual members of the team. The latter was an important one considering that this is the first time that our three organizations have come together for a longer period aboard Marumaru Atua.
The first leg to the Pa ‘Enua Tokerau took seven days, and was an eye-opener for some and a learning opportunity for others; most of this information will be released at a later date when all the analysis is complete (e.g., plastic trolling). Because we arrived on a Sunday, as a common practice on Tongareva, we were not permitted to come on land. Fortunately, Marumaru Atua was allowed to anchor and shelter inside the lagoon area outside of Omoka, just before sundown. The next morning, the team was very humbled by the welcoming ceremony involving the school children and the community of Omoka.
For those returning after so many years paid more attention to the little change they saw on the island, and for the younger crew members, it was a sigh of much relief to be on land!
Yesterday morning (Tuesday), TIS did a presentation with the girls in the school on reusable personal hygiene products, followed by a combined presentations with KO on ocean health; at the vaka, CIVS did their tours and some practical learnings about water safety. Later in the day, myself and Poko continued our video interviews with the elders in the community to gather information on traditional knowledge, their views on the state of coastal and offshore fisheries, deep sea mining, and the revival of our cultural practices. For me personally, it was sad that many of the elders I interviewed six years ago had passed. For the CIVS crew, it was an opportunity to give Marumaru Atua some TLC.
We are so thankful to the people of Omoka for their kind hospitality, especially the Catholic community for providing the team breakfast and dinner and a place to stay. Today (Wednesday), we will hold our first community meeting with Omoka, and tomorrow we will head over to Tetautua to deliver our program there.
Meitaki Maata again to Nia Tero, Synchronicity Earth, and Seacology for their support. Meitaki also to all the families and friends following our updates.
Te Atua te aro’a.
Dr Teina Rongo