First Voyaging Experience

Terena Koteka-Wiki shares her recent voyaging experience

Sailing feels like reconnecting to the ways that our ancestors travelled. Don’t poke fun, I certainly had my fair share of Moana moments onboard vaka Marumaru Atua. Voyaging to the southern group islands was an opportunity of a lifetime and one that I will never forget!

Each sail was the perfect time to reconnect with the ocean and our surrounding environments. New friendships, naps in the sun, but above all the discovery of moments of great emotion that for the first time you are living onboard the vaka.

There were several moments of joy, laughter, and many songs played on the ukulele by the beautiful Konini Rongo. Learning about the stars on clear nights from watch captain Deon Wong was enlightening

I feel very fortunate and grateful to have been able to go on this voyage and experience a collaboration so unique. Through the respectful collaboration of each organization, including Korero o te Orau, Cook Islands Voyaging Society and Te Ipukarea Society, with the island communities involved, we shared a wealth of knowledge from ocean pollution to coral bleaching and learning the ropes on the vaka. I personally loved that the crew onboard the vaka all shared a similar interest, our love for the ocean. The passion and motivation to help educate the students and the wider communities about our ocean’s health was so evident and strong.

It is important that we share the current state of our oceans health with the students and communities of the Cook Islands because it will be the future generations that will be impacted by our actions.  One of the key messages we were passing on was the potential risks involved with mining our deep ocean floor, and the need for more time before even considering this activity.  Time for more independent research, time to build the capacity of local scientists, engineers and others to allow for rational decision making.

I feel very proud and honored to have had the opportunity to represent Te Ipukarea Society on vaka Marumaru Atua on this second leg of the Tāua e Moana voyage to the southern group islands and alongside the best crew!

Each island will be remembered for many unique traditions, but one standout was the welcoming ceremony the Tāua e Moana team received from each island. Let’s not forget all the kaikai’s that we were blessed with!

Upon boarding the vaka I had one goal which was not to get seasick and I feel like I did very well, mostly. Unfortunately, the sail from Mauke to Mangaia had other ideas in store for me but it was all good in the end.

My family and I are from Nga-Pu-Toru, my mama Kathy Koteka was born in Mauke and married my papa, Dr. George Koteka in Atiu. My mum Emm Koteka-Wiki was born in Rarotonga but grew up and attended Api’i Mangaia. Presenting to the students at the school she attended growing up was an awesome experience.  I couldn’t help but look at the view from the school in Mangaia, was beautiful!

This voyage had me feeling so many different emotions; proud, joyful and exhilarated. There was certainly no shortage of highlights and I look forward to future voyages!

As published in the Cook Islands News 2nd October 2021