10 Dec 2018

Cook Islands vaka secures nearly $NZ500,000 in funding

8:55 am on 10 December 2018

The Cook Islands' flagship vaka has become the first recipient of funding from a new US-based nonprofit dedicated to indigenous rights.

Te Marumaru Atua just outside Avana Channel in Rarotonga. Seven canoes left at different stages from here to sail to Aotearoa, navigating by the stars.

Marumaru Atua just outside Avana Channel in Rarotonga. Photo: Cook Islands Voyaging Society

Fire destroyed the starboard hull of Marumaru Atua in September last year and the Cook Island Voyaging Society appealed for funding.

The society's secretary, Cecile Marten, said the organisation Nia Tero confirmed it would contribute $NZ135,000 towards repairs.

This is on top of the $NZ255,000 granted by the Cook Islands government in February.

Ms Marten said the support will help the vaka get back on the water next year.

"We're looking at relaunching at the around the end of March, and depending on the weather - our cyclone season finishes around the end of April - we will wait for the best window to sail her back and hope to be home by May 2019."

Nia Tero, which opened offices in Washington earlier this year, "seeks to secure indigenous guardianship of vital ecosystems", according to its website.

The funding it's providing will go towards new engines for Marumaru Atua.

The organisation was introduced to the Cook Island Voyaging Society the week before a fire ravaged the vaka, Ms Marten said.

"And since then they've been following our progress and two weeks ago they confirmed they were going to support us and fund our new engine."

The society has also raised around $NZ19,000 towards the repairs through online crowdfunding.

Ms Marten said once Marumaru Atua is back in the Cook Islands, it will be launched on voyages in the Pacific Islands, having previously sailed to the United States and Australia.

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