23 May 2012

New vaka hoped to inspire Pacific youth

1:52 pm on 23 May 2012

One of seven vaka being gifted to countries around the Pacific arrived in the Cook Islands last week, where the inspiration for the project first began.

Dieter Paulmann, a German philanthropist and founder of the Okeanos Foundation for the sea, was in the Cook Islands four years ago and as an environmentalist was impressed with the traditional vaka.

The chief vaka officer for the Pacific Voyagers foundation, Tua Pittman, says one of the boats has already arrived in Tahiti and the vaka Marumaru Atua was welcomed into Avatiu Harbour in Rarotonga last week.

Mr Pittman says it's hoped the new vaka worth about 900,000 US dollars will see a revival in the vaka, which is iconic to the islands.

"Already environmental groups are looking as using these vaka for scientific research of the reefs of our islands. Education is wanting a template of what vaka voyaging is all about, our traditions and our cultures, and instilling that into the youth, being part of the vaka and being taught vaka values."

Tua Pittman says the boats are powered by the wind and sun, and each has solar panels.