Talofa, e Kia Orana to tatou iti Tangata o te kuki airani, e kia orana i te kopu Tangata o te Pacific Voyagers.
As this is my first blog for 2012, to our followers, especially in Samoa, please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Nicholas Henry, my family is from Aitutaki and Rarotonga Cook Islands. I sailed on Te Au O Tonga in 2008 to the South Pacific Festival of Arts in Tutuila. It was this voyage that was the catalyst for the building of the 7 Vaka Moana of the Pacific Voyagers. The very 7 that will sail into Apia harbour to celebrate the 50th year of Samoa Independence and complete the circle when we arrive in Honiara for the Arts Festival 2012 in July.
As Captain of Gaualofa, before I proceed I must pay tribute to past captains Marc & Jeff, in particular Marc Gondard who has trained the Samoa va’a crew to the highest standard and made my task, almost effortless. Meitaki atupaka Marc.
So here we are adrift on the Pacific (just north of the equator) some 300 miles off Galapagos, the wind has died, the ocean is calm and the ukuleles are strumming under the light of the moon. “Uncle Charlie” is on the fo’e. Taleni, Faapau, John are on strings, Sala is on spoons, they are singing songs from Samoa. This is voyaging in the Pacific, Samoa style.
To the people of Samoa I extend my humblest thanks for this opportunity to Captain your va’a, many wonderful things have happened to me on this voyage, but this is (in Jayde’s words) one of the bestest. We all sail for many reasons, to see the world, for adventure, to conquer fears, to rediscover cultural ties, to heal, some even to escape life at home and for many of us to spread a message of love for our ocean. Te moana nui o kiwa (hiva, kiva), the Pacific Ocean I am told by the experts is at risk. Serious risk...really, something this large is that fragile, it’s kind of hard to believe, especially when we experience her ferocity?
What do I know? Today (as yesterday and the day before, and even the day before that) we had turtles drift past Gaualofa, raising their lazy heads before plunging below. We had dolphins riding our bow waves. Today we had a 60kg yellowfin tuna dive out of the water right next to us, we had a red footed booby (seabird) land on the bowsprit and leave his “mark”, we had petrels swoop alongside us chasing the small surface fish, on the horizon there were flocks of birds working the fish and the ocean “boiling” in whitewash with skipjacks. This is what I have seen but it is a rare beauty that sadly only a very small percentage of the 7 billion of us will get to experience.
But, can you imagine what she(the Pacific) was like before longliners and purse seiners, before the mother ships, before bycatch, before man licensed our grandchildren’s heritage to a foreign appetite. I struggle to imagine pods of whales numbering in the thousands, now they are in the 10’s or 20’s, can you imagine what that must have been like to cross the Pacific 100 years ago. I sit and wonder.
Will whales and dolphins be a “stuffed” sight in our museums, or a limited few in Zoos and aquatic parks.
Let us learn from our past, each and every one of us can make a difference no matter how small your action is, it all adds up. You know what to do. We all do. We hear it and see it every day... reduce, reuse, recycle, we just need to act, today. Not taking that plastic bag at the store on your next visit actually matters to the little turtle who swam by us today...now with a lesser risk of swallowing that bag.