Talofa e kia orana tatou katoatoa, Hard to believe but since mid January we have travelled more than 7000 nautical miles across the Pacific, from San Diego to Cocos, to Galapagos through Tahiti an now to the Cook Islands...my home. Six Tipairua vaka and now the 7th sister has joined us from Tahiti, now we are almost complete, tomorrow we will be Tavaru, tomorrow we will be together. It has been said many times, but I will say it again, thank you Dieter Paulmann! Meitaki Atupaka! Dieters vision and determination, in 3 years put 7 Vaka Moana on the ocean, trained 100s of Pacific men and women to sail, and journeyed collectively more than 100,000 miles of ocean. Some said it couldn't be done. On our journey we saw many Vaka projects in various stages, some still dreams, some in concept, many under construction but still to touch the water. I hope an pray our journey can be an inspiration to you to complete your Vaka, to sail and to join us to protect our Pacific Ocean. Te Mana o te Moana, the spirit and awesome power of the Pacific Ocean has taught each of us many lessons along the journey. We have felt her might and her gentle caress, her ferocity and her healing, we have seen the beauty and the ugly polluted side of the Pacific ocean. And tomorrow I will be at home, my mother is waiting, my son and my brothers and sisters in Aitutaki and their families. Durng this journey two more have joined our immediate family, two brand new faces I am yet to see. Uncle Nick (or Nicholas as Mum calls me)is coming home. I write the words a little in disbelief, I know it was on the sailplan but Aitutaki always seemed so far away in miles and in time, yet here I am on the night of the Sabbath a mere 40miles off the coast of Araura Enua, Aitutaki. The Island of two of our most legendary leaders in modern times, Sir Albert Henry and Sir Geoffrey Henry. Papa Arapati, our grandfather, was the father of the Cook Islands, in 1965 he brought us into independence and gradually year by year took the Kiwi spoon from our mouths and showed us how to stand on our own. Sir Geoffrey Arama Henry K.B.E. passed away last week, we send our aroa and prayers to Aunty Louisa and the family. Sir Geoffrey was a statesman for the Pacific, he was a family man, with a humble home in Takamoa, his dogs, pigs and chickens always nearby. Often when I would go to meet him, we would sit and talk on the verandah or under the mango tree, he was comfortable with a ukelele under his arm or in suit and tie addressing the UN. Uncle Geoff was a man of many talents, he was a Prime Minister Cook Islanders could be proud of, he is a man I am proud of. In our small forest the tallest tree has fallen. For Voyagers, Sir Geoffrey was a constant in the Voyaging society of the Cook Islands, he was our first and only Patron for more than 20 years. It was his vision with Sir Thomas Davis, another of our finest leaders, that in 1994-1995 led to the construction of Vaka Te au o Tonga, the Tipairua, the most efficient and effective voyaging Vaka design on the ocean today. This design which originates from the Island of Fakarava, Tuamotus is quick, safe and comfortable for the crew. He was in Avana, Rarotonga to welcome the 5 Vaka in 2010, I know he will be in Arutanga tomorrow. So Tavaru, the eight...7 sisters and their mother, Vaka Te au o tonga will be together tomorrow, for the first time ever. This is history in the making, to use the words and advice of my friend and Hawaii navigator Kalepa (Chad) we will look around, we will look at the faces, we will look into their eyes and we will never forget this day. Nicholas Royle Henry
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.