The Samoa Voyaging Socety (SVS) works to promote positive Samoan cultural values, respect for the ocean and nature, individual and social responsibility, discipline and integrity.

The SVS considers that the reintroduction of traditional sailing in Samoa will provide opportunities for youth development (sports, leadership), environmental awareness, cultural development and, potentially, tourism opportunities such as whale watching and adventure tours.

SVS is developing hands-on educational and training programmes in traditional sailing and navigation. The programmes will target young Samoan youth including school children, school leavers and other interested groups. The task of learning traditional sailing and navigation skills also develops leadership and discipline among the youth, leading to well-rounded young people capable of contributing positively to the growth of this nation.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

21st April 2011

Life onboard Gaualofa

We have Te Matua a Maui on our aft beam, Hine straight ahead, Haunui starboard quarter and Uto SW of us. Our support boats our cruising along thru the fleet doing a great job

After a long talk with the boys and contemplation of the idea: taking a bath in waters of 17°C and icy winds of 15°C, it was agreed that today would be bath day. Wet towel baths weren’t enough. Amid laughter and yells of being doused by cold sea water, it was done. The crew of Gaualofa were ready for another day. Taking a sea water bath on the va’a is a bit of a mission. Picture this- rocking boat, cold winds, icy NZ water and using a bucket. Oh and did I mention the bathing occurs on the nets at the bow? The nets at the bow are set up catamaran design, but with bigger holes. So one wrong step and your whole leg goes thru, it’s a pain trying to get it back out while you’re only wearing a lavalava and being thrown about by the movement of the va’a.

My team consists of Faapau, Taleni and Salai. Taleni and Salai have improved immensely since we left Samoa in late March. There’s usually no need to explain to them why we have to trim sails, aim high/low, drift effect, etc. Faapau and I sailed together last year and were on the same watch team as well. So we work well together almost automatically reading each other’s next moves. Salai’s the comic relief in our group, always cracking jokes.

Lolesio is making pumpkin soup with coconut cream, lime, chilli and basil. Smells pretty yum. Lunch was roast sandwiches and quinoa salad.

We sighted our first albatross earlier today. Sun’s about to set another hour and half then it’ll be dark. The past night shifts were uneventful, just cold and constant laughter. Looking forward to what tomorrow brings.

From Gaualofa, with love.


Marc Gondard

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

20th April 2011

A helicopter came around early morn to take pictures of the fleet. We all had our traditional rigs on as well as the new head sail: AP Jib (or as we call it on our va’a, solent). The fleet did a few manoeuvres for the camera before sailing due East.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Te Mana o Te Moana - "The Spirit of the Sea"

The Voyage Begins

Date: 19.04.11
Position: Viaduct - Waitemata Harbour

Today’s the day we finally leave. After constant delays due to weather constraints we’re finally leaving, no really we are. On departure we received ulas from Lolesio’s mother, Talala Patolo. A flurry of last minute shopping and three skipper meetings and we’re off. Each va’a performed their siva tau while leaving the Viaduct thanking their land crew, friends, families and the general public.

Going through customs was basic and simple, and we were soon off towards Rangitoto Island to rendezvous with the rest of the fleet after they clear customs as well. Before sunset and dinner, the crew did its customary “custom belief”; it’s our own ritual that we set up in asking for safe passage. Marc did the first prayer on our voyage for the first leg and blessed the meal as well. We had a late lunch of stir fry, brown rice and Samoa’s very own chilli sauce. Moonrise was beautiful sight, with the fleet silhouetted in the foreground. Lolesio still has dinner roasting in our brand new oven. The crew is quite happy about the new addition, already setting up orders of muffins and roast.

Sometime later…

Our dinner has now become tomorrow’s lunch, a relaxed and enjoyable start sailing out of Auckland. The fleet are meeting up again on the SE side of Great Barrier for a photo op.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Zealand Farewell Ceremony - 13th April 2011

Market Place - Viaduct, Auckland

The sun beat down on us as we gathered at the Viaduct marina with the rest of the Pacific voyagers on Wednesday. As preparations for our farewell ceremony continued throughout the morning, I couldn’t help but notice the buzzing energy of each of the five va’a crews, dressed smartly in their formal island-style uniforms: Uto Ni Yalo showing the colour of the mid-day sky; Haunui in the vibrant hue of a setting sun; Te Matau a Maui stylishly portraying the dark of the night-time ocean; Hine Moana also dressed in black, but trimmed with the fiery red of anticipation that flows excitedly through the bodies of all of the voyagers gathered here. We, the Sāmoan crew of the Gaualofa, reflect the brilliant blue of the vast Pacific ocean; this giant expanse of life upon which we will live for the coming 4 months as we make our way towards Hawai’i, and then beyond. The Gaualofa raised her traditional (Marquesas) rig, revealing for the first time the new design upon which 6 of our crew had laboured over the past week, depicting the ocean, its life and frightening power.

Some of the crew make final adjustments to their uniforms, while others assist in setting up chairs and sitting mats for the Māori poroporoaki farewell ceremony and the Fijian Kava. Just a few remain aboard to manoeuvre the Gaualofa into position for the send-off; crew of the other va’a do the same, and before long the memorable sight of four of these hardy ocean-voyaging vessels moored next to each other is set.

The skippers gathered their crew and sat them in the rowed seats, with interested spectators sitting behind to observe the ceremonial happenings.

Hoturoa, a senior member of the Haunui crew, offers a brief introduction before handing on to the kaumatua who sits next to him, who offers a prayer in Māori to ask of our great voyaging ancestors a blessing for our ambitious voyage. The ceremony moves on to hear the empowering words of Matua Hector Busby, a preeminent figure within traditional ocean voyaging circles in the Pacific, and a tufuga fauva’a of great skill and experience. Hector is supported strongly by a group who stand with him to sing a song for the voyagers who are leaving. Meanwhile, a number of the boys from Fiji are standing aside, preparing to present an energetic performance for the spectators dressed in traditional war-dance garb. The song ends and the Fijians burst onto the centre mat amidst their own energetic cries and theatrical jeers. The level is raised as the rhythm picks up, until the short yet intense show explodes in a ball of frightening energy.

The ceremony goes on as Captain Frank of Te Matau a Maui offers a Māori greeting to all present; he greets the spiritual essence of the Sky and the Earth and the ancestors who watch from afar, and asks that they might help to guide our va’a safely on their journey. He acknowledges skippers Marc, Duncan, Jonathan and Magnus, of the four other va’a embarking from Aotearoa, and all of the collective crew.

Frank’s mihi is supported by his Ngati Kahungunu crew, who all stand in a great chorus of Māori voices, ringing out in harmonised melodies.

The ceremony continued on; the Fijian Uto Ni Yalo crew returned to perform the sacred Kava ceremony for the dignitaries present, including the skippers and other leaders. Jack Thatcher, the leading celestial navigator for Hine Moana and the entire fleet then led a special Māori haka, accompanied by crew members of Te Matau a Maui. This haka is said to have been developed from the powerful words of a Māori karakia many generations past, which had the power to quell the guardian spirits of the ocean when entering a protected harbour. Jack led the group with unrivaled vigour and power, displaying his quality as a leader of men and a cultural stalwart of the voyage, and the Māori contingent responded to his guiding calls with powerful energy and intense rhythmic action.

The ceremony was finally closed with a prayer and hymn, as all of the crew members and spectators joined hands in a giant ring of spiritual piety to the Almighty, to the natural spirits of the world, and to our great ancestors who spread our people across the seas through their great qualities of patience, diligence, wisdom and courage.

Finally the time had come for our departure into the harbour. Spectators were alerted to the dock by the distictive rhythmic calls of “Hine! Hine! Hine Moana!”, as Magnus and his crew of Tongan, Vanuatu, Tahitian, Fijian and Maori chanted and danced the haka of their va’a with beaming enthusiasm. Each va’a moved off to the chanting and stamping of their own rhythmic signature, and the Gaualofa followed suit with her own powerful burst of Sāmoan pride: “‘O ai le toa?...Sāmoa!!”

After a short cruise of but a few hours in the Auckland harbour, manoeuvring the va’a and capturing footage of the different sailing crews from cameras aboard Te Matau a Maui, Gaualofa and the fleet of Pacific va’a returned to dock at the Viaduct, to complete their last few preparations before departure into the vast deep blue.

Although due to leave on Friday, a large storm at sea has delayed our departure, and for the past few days the crew of the Gaualofa and most of the other va’a have been living on board on standby, eager and ready to venture beyond the horizon as soon as the weather allows an opening.

Nonetheless, in but one day or two we will embark on our long journey of re-discovery, as we strive to learn the ways of our ancestors who once sailed the vast oceanic currents with naught but the sun, moon and stars, and guided only by their respect for, and spiritual connection with the ocean that is our past, our present, and our future home.

Bruce Maauga