Vaka Moana | Pacific Voyagers

Vaka Moana

General Overview

The Vaka Moana is our largest traditional canoe. It is a fully autonomous open ocean sailing canoe. Its name means “Boat of the Ocean”.

When James Cook first came to the Tuamotus and other Polynesian islands around 1770, he was inspired by the canoes and made drawings of them. Fortunately these drawings facilitated the lore of the ancient Polynesian knowledge and traditional design and enabled the construction of the first Vaka Moana in recent times. On the basis of James Cook’s old measurements and lines and through the initiative of Sir Thomas Davis, the first Vaka Moana “Te Au O Tonga“ was built in 1994 in Rarotonga/Cook Islands.

Essentially, our seven Vaka Moana that have been recreated at Salthouse Boatbuilders in Auckland, New Zealand, are following these same lines and are based on the traditional double-hulled polynesian sailing canoe design. However, in contrast to traditional vaka with hulls made of one big tree trunk, our hulls are made of E-Glass and Epoxy Resin. All of our Vaka Moana have a set of traditional crab claw booms and a set of offshore rights with reefable Bermuda sails for safety during long voyages.

All beams are connected to the hulls through traditional lashings. They require no use of fossil energy as they are purely wind and solar powered. At the same time they are fostering cultural revival, educational opportunities and community empowerment.

The seven Vaka Moana have sailed a combined 210,000 nautical miles of open-ocean during the 2010-2012 ‘Te Mana O Te Moana’ Voyage. All boats proved to be extremely sea worthy, reliable and safe. This voyage was a demonstration of the art and power of traditional sailing techniques guided by the stars and filled the Pacific sailors with pride and self-confidence. The vaka voyage’s idea was to start where local traditions have been lost or forgotten due to foreign intervention. The voyage reminded people of their cultural heritage and showed them what they are capable of achieving with traditional methods. People throughout the Pacific were inspired by the crew, the boats and the success of the voyage, and the demand for vaka throughout the Pacific began to gain momentum.

Our seven Vaka Moana are:

Hine Moana (Pan-Pacific)

The last of the seven vaka that were launched is named ‘Hine Moana’, the ‘Guardian Lady of the Sea’. It was crewed by people from all over the Pacific and Europe during the ‘Te Mana o Te Moana’ voyage. Hine Moana came back in December 2013 after 4 months in Tonga where she was used for tourism and whale watching operations together with the Tongan Voyaging Society. After that she was used for different purposes, mainly in New Zealand, and almost on her way to Europe in order to do educational and environmental work with young people in the Mediterranean when Hawaiki Rising Voyaging Trust, a trust from New Zealand funded by Simon McDonald, put forward a proposal to purchase Hine Moana and use her for educational activities, especially for the youth of Maori and Polynesian descent. So Hine Moana was sold to the trust in September 2014 and now remains in the Pacific. We are very happy and proud to know that the flagship of the ‘Te Mana O Te Moana’ fleet with its mana and years of pacific experience is now being used for the training of the youth. Stay updated about Hine Moana’s activities via their Facebook page.

Haunui (Pan-Pacific)

The vaka ‘Haunui’ was operated by a pan-pacific crew during the ‘Te Mana O Te Moana’ voyage. It is named after Tainui kaumatua Hone Haunui who was respected and recognised for his matauranga and in his lifetime launched many vaka. The vaka ‘Haunui’ is now owned by Te Toki Voyaging Trust and used for educational and cultural purposes in New Zealand. ‘Haunui’ is currently in Avana (Cook Islands) and will stay in Rarotonga until August for the Te Maeva Nui celebrations.
Haunui Waka

Te Matau A Maui (Aotearoa, New Zealand)

‘Te Matau a Maui’ hails from Ngāti Kahungunu and is operated and owned by the Te Matau A Māui Voyaging Trust. Their vision is to develop, educate and promote all aspects of waka voyaging within Aotearoa, Ngāti Kahungunu and the Hawke’s Bay community, so that the knowledge is passed on to future generations. The Trust was formed in 2013 by a small group of experienced ocean voyaging sailors trained in the practice of traditional navigation and polynesian sailing. Te Matau a Māui is permanently berthed in the Ahuriri Harbour, Napier but currently in Rarotonga, Cook Islands together with ‘Haunui’ and ‘Marumaru Atua’.
Te Matau A Maui Voyaging Trust

Marumaru Atua (Cook Islands)

This vaka is owned and operated by the Cook Islands Voyaging Society that aims to recover and relearn knowledge, skills and traditions about constructing traditional Cook Islands ocean voyaging canoes and to revive Cook Islands’ voyaging heritage. ‘Marumaru Atua’ and its crew have returned home to Cook Islands – after a long stay in New Zealand – for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Cook Islands’ self-government. It is now back in Rarotonga with ‘Haunui’ and ‘Te Matau A Maui’.
Cook Islands Voyaging Society

Uto Ni Yalo (Fiji)

‘Uto Ni Yalo’ is owned and operated by the Uto Ni Yalo Trust in Fiji where it shall help to revive and sustain traditional Fijian canoe building, sailing and navigation skills, to advocate sustainable development and preservation of marine and land environment and to rediscover and preserve traditional arts.
Uto Ni Yalo Trust

Faafaite (Tahiti)

The vaka ‘Faafaite’ is owned and operated by the Association Faafaite i te Ao Maohi which is a non-profit organization created in March of 2009 and registered in Papeete, Tahiti (French Polynesia). It is used for educational purposes as well as for tourism operations. A lot of film crews have also enjoyed a beautiful sail on this young lady who was just 5 years old on October 31, 2014. Fa’afaite just sailed from Tahiti to Cook Islands and was the first vaka to get there for the Te Manava Vaka Festival. It is now on its way back to Tahiti.

Gaualofa (Samoa)

The vaka ‘Gaualofa’ is owned and operated by Aiga Folau o Samoa or Samoa Voyaging Society (SVS) where it is used for different activities in order to promote positive Samoan cultural values, respect for the ocean and nature, individual and social responsibility, discipline and integrity. ‘Gaualofa’ was also part of the Te Manava voyage together with three other Pacific Voyagers’ vakas and has now returned to Samoa.
Samoa Voyaging Society

Pictures of the ‘Te Mana O Te Moana’ voyage

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