In 2010 Pacific Voyagers completed the construction of seven ocean voyaging canoes, called “Vaka Moana” (boat of the ocean). They were built in Aotearoa (New Zealand) to set sail on a maiden voyage across the Pacific in 2011, and many of the island nations of the Pacific were represented by one vaka, each with their own sailors.
They sailed from Aotearoa to Hawai’i, then to the West Coast of the United States and completed their journey in July 2012 at the Festival of Pacific Arts in the Solomon Islands, after visiting San Diego, Cocos Islands, Galapagos, Tahiti, Cook Islands, Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu. The aim of this voyage, known as ‘Te Mana o Te Moana’ (The Spirit of the Ocean), was to reconnect with the traditions, with Pacific communities and with the ocean and to spread the message of ocean protection.
Hawai’i was the first and one of the most important destinations of this voyage in order to meet the Hawaiian brothers and sisters there who have been and are reviving the traditional celestial navigation for many decades already and to thank and honor them for their remarkable achievements. For this reason we have also organized the Kava Bowl Ocean Summit in Honolulu at the same time where for the first time sailors, scientists and other experts from all over the world and different areas of expertise gathered in order to discuss the latest findings about the state of the ocean. Everybody gained a deep insight into this subject, and a series of different workshops gave rise to important projects.
During the conference we soon realized that the old type of story of the Pacific needs to be rewritten, and that we’ll need to find a new story. A story that teaches and tells us how we want to see our island, our “blue canoe” in ten, twenty, thirty years. What can we do to shape the future in a positive way?! We then started to tell this new story. And by doing this discovered four important parts that we’ll need to retell and thus reshape:
- Inter-Island Transportation without Fossil Fuel Energy
- Fossil-free Energy Production
- Food Sovereignty
- Ownership of Fishing Rights through OFEC (Organization of Fish Exporting Countries)
After the summit and the succesful return of all vaka and their sailors, local NGOs were established to utilize the vaka for different purposes. Education, training and reconnection with tradition and the ocean were given particular importance. The summit also marked the birth hour of Pacific Voyagers which serves as a “family brand” for the local voyaging NGOs and continues to advance the above stated projects and helps to gather and transfer knowledge and experience in the Pacific region in these areas. We have summarized thee major components of our work in a holistic plan for the future that we call ‘The Blue Canoe Project’.
Our mission is simple: Use the wisdom of the ancestors, combined with modern science, to propel us into a more sustainable future, to help heal our injured ocean, to raise awareness, and to revive the cultural traditions of voyaging. We know that the health of the oceans reflects the health of the people. And when we truly acknowledge this insight, when we are aware of extensive threats to the ocean, and when we care about the future of our children, the only logical step is to create a new vision, a sustainable sail plan based on values of interconnectedness, respect and stewardship.