Te Mana O Te Moana: A Reflection
We’ve been asked to write about what the voyage has meant to us; too much to tell in this short space, but very simply it’s been life changing. This voyage that honours the Ancestors of the Pacific People has demanded that we step up with integrity and respect, with pride and humility at the same time, demanded that we take responsibility for the past and responsibility for the future. It has challenged us in the extreme to live together as different cultures and often less easy, as different people. We’ve sailed the face of Tangaroa, Te Moananui o Kiva and had to accept that in nature we are a small part of something much greater. We’ve learnt to submit to the rhythm of life as the winds and sea beat us and hurled us forward or abandoned us to float for days in forced reflection. We’ve seen the face of God in giant swells, and unbelievable beauty in the smallest sea creatures. Blue whales and baby flying fish, curious Hammerheads and defensive Gobie’s living in barnacle shells. Bioluminescence in the waves beneath a sky full of stars that guide us as they did the old Navigators.
We’ve learnt of old lores and customs that sustained societies for millennium. Seen Hawaiian fish farms 700 years old, learnt of Tikopean conservation that maintain their island’s flora and fauna in tact and in balance for generations. Studied the stars and listened to the stories of the mystic arts of the Navigators as they guided their people thousands of miles. Learnt that to see Tevake, the long tailed sea bird means we’re getting close to land and that a ring around the sun means there’s a storm coming.
We seen the damage wrought by a careless world until the greatest continent on the planet has become full of toxins and empty of life. It was devastating to see a thousand miles of plastic in what should be pristine ocean; to hear stories of ‘dead zones’ devoid of oxygen caused by agricultural runoff, to imagine an ocean without coral reefs because the water is turning acidic from CO2.
We’ve met so many amazing people. Elders who carry the jewels of their culture to pass on to the youth, rich in their differences but with the same core values everywhere; People who remember when the seas and rivers were full of fish; Business people using sustainable models;
Scientists who recognise that before we strip species from the land and sea, before we replace forests with farms we need to learn more about them. We need to learn about the ecosystems that are the life support for our planet. We need to learn respect.