Mua Voyage: Marumaru Atua Blog, December 2, 2014
Kia Orana Tatou,
Wow! How can I describe this visit of Marumaru Atua to Australia?
It has been 8 days since we left Pittwater in Sydney and now Aotearoa is rising out of the ocean as James Pakoti’s watch sees a whale glide by our vaka at 6am then Three Kings Islands just above Cape Reinga on the northern most tip of Te Ika a Maui (North Island).
Marumaru Atua will never be forgotten in Australia. One, because of her name and what it means “Under the shelter or protection of God”. Two, because we had sailed traditionally with our sister canoes to Australia to the International Union of conservation and nature IUCN World Parks Congress to voice our concerns of what issues we have in our pacific islands with our ocean and environment. Three, because we had brought our Cook Islands people closer together.
On numerous occasions as we were hosted in the different cities, it was stressed how this vaka had united the Cook Islands people of Australia more than ever before. The Mama’s and Papa’s, teenagers and tamariki jumped at the opportunity to learn songs, chants and dance, to greet Marumaru Atua as she arrived onto their second home, Australia. Their first home, the beautiful islands of the Cook Islands, in their minds, was being represented by Marumaru Atua, her Captain Peia Patai and her crew. Every crewmember on this vaka was somehow connected to an ancestor, a family line, a relative, an Ariki that reminded them of their home. For our families in Australia, the Cook Islands was coming to them, “Under the protection of God”
We were fortunate to have our Prime Minister Hon. Henry Puna and Mrs. Puna there to witness the emotions pride and love these people felt for our vaka and their homeland.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our people of Australia for being incredible loving hosts.
On the Goldcoast, the Cook Islands council and their leaders, The Mayor of Goldcoast City Council and your committee for the use of facilities etc. Thank you Matt and your wife for escorting the fleet into the welcoming ceremony. Mr. George Upu and his committee maroiroi. This man has endless energy, his love for his culture and traditions and his ultimate love of the lord was his driving force. George… we salute you…
In Coffs Harbour a big thank you to George Ruaporo for taking care of our provisions. The Fijian community for feeding the MUA fleet in the evening and special thanks to the Marina management for allowing free berthing.
In Port Macquarie, Thanks to the Mayor for visiting the fleet and the Marina management for use of the facilities.
At Yarra Bay, a big thanks you to the Pacific Islands communities and our very vocal Cook Islands community.
At Darling Harbour, well that was another story and all I can say is WOW!!!
A special thank you to the staff and management of the Australia Maritime museum for hosting us in your berthing, for all your assistance and use of your facilities.
In Sydney a big thank you to the Australia Sydney Cook Islands community…
President Margret Nekeare-Cowan and your hard working committee, Mama Patron, Terence Tangatapoto, Pai Boy Meti, our faithful bus driver, Beverley and the lovely Josephine and many many more. Your welcome kaikai on the Saturday and our farewell were very overwhelming and heartfelt. Meitaki maata.
To the Fifteen Star community, Papa Bishop, Papa Soro and your committee thank you for hosting us.
To the Atiu community, Arthur Boaza and Papa Pureau and your committee. Meitaki ranuinui no te kaikai.
To the Vaipae connection of Araura Enua in Sydney, Ngametua Cummings, the band, to Alex Nichols and his dancers thanks for the great festival atmosphere and kaikai in Pittwater, that neighborhood will never be the same again, the residents of that area loved the music and camaraderie amongst all the canoes and their people.
To our Pittwater family, Tony and Myra Harford and your Mauke connection and also to the beautiful Puna Tuakanangaro, thank you for all you have done for us in your own way… you made your home, our home and for that we are truly greatful.
Thank you maata to Mato and Tongia Mato for assistance with our supplies. It was great to see you Cuz.
Then there is our big bro Henry Framhein, the ever present Henry, always there communicating between committees, providing his transport, picking up, dropping off and forever snapping photos of every event. We took you away from your family Henry but we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love.
If I have missed any one please accept our apologies, we met so many beautiful people who have poured their hearts out for our vaka and her crew, for this we say meitaki maata.
Our Mama Marumaru Atua is heading for dry-dock in Aotearoa. When we arrive we will lift her out of the water and begin refurbishing her, giving her a well-deserved upgrade, she has served us well so we owe it to her to keep her functional and beautiful. All your contributions will go towards this project so when she goes home to her Ipukarea she will have a big smile on her face.
In ending, let me share with you an unusual story of mystique and believe it or not!
One sunshine day in Darling Harbour, one of the administration staff of the Sydney Maritime Museum took the opportunity to take a photo of the canoes in their berth in front of the museum; all the crew had left to attend a function at the IUCN congress. She snapped a few shots on a clear blue sunshine day with not a cloud in the sky. On reviewing her photos in the view finder she was confused because looking at the canoes there were no clouds but in her view finder there was a clear cloud soaring only over Marumaru Atua, she developed the photo and waited for crew members to come home. She asked crewmembers, what is the name of that canoe and they replied Marumaru Atua, “Under the protection or shelter of God”. OMG! She said this is so spiritual, you guys are so blessed… Yes we are said the crew… that’s why we love her…
Thank you and ka kite Australia, Tena koe Aotearoa, teia mei nei te anau..
Teuatakiri (Tua) Pittman