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Hahoaki Hoholau o Lata

Lata Voyaging Culture School

People of Taumako, Southeast Solomons connect intimately with their islands and ocean. 

Ancestral relationships with phenomena of sea, sky, and land, and with communities of neighboring islands are of utmost importance.  Ancient materials, methods, designs, and tools are used in everyday life.


Their ancestor, Lata, was the first person to build and sail a voyaging canoe. To build a voyaging canoe, Lataʻs first step is to plant gardens to feed the workers.  Lata was, and is, an expert in agriculture, weather, navigation, relationships with animals, life rituals, creative arts, and how to make partners and solve problems between people and communities.


Voyaging practices were outlawed by colonizers. Since the 1920s Taumako became more and more isolated, a cash economy grew. In recent decades the climate is changing. Taumakoans, and other Pacific islanders, need to use Lata’s ancient knowledge to have healthy self-sufficiency and mutually supportive communications with each other. 

Because Lata voyaged all through Polynesia, Lataʻs gardening, ocean, sky, weather, and social knowledge is key to re-connecting networks of island peoples and reviving sustainable bio-cultural practices throughout Oceania. Hohoahi Hoholau o Lata (Lata Cultural Voyaging School) aims to train people to make this happen.


~ Rebuild the cyclone-damaged TePuke or TeAlo Lili voyaging canoe now damaged at Vanikoro and sail on to re-open seaways throughout SE Solomons and the western Pacific region.  Eventually complete the “Holau Vanuatu” the newly re-opened, ancient, sea-road between Taumako and Vanuatu


~ Build a permanently-roofed Halevaka (canoe house) at Taumako, to accommodate 2 voyaging vessels, students, internet communications office, archive, and video lab. Establish a solar power system to run a sat-dish and run laptops and lights.

~ Inventory plants and other resources as students learn what to use for each part of the vaka, how it functions when sailing at sea, and what the relationships (correlations and calibrations) between phenomena are in Lata’s ancient system of wayfinding, gardening and weather work – called Te Nohoanga Te Matangi.  The students identify and grow traditional plants and use them in their feasts to feed the workers daily.  Teach methods of food preparation and preservation, such as making MahI – fermented breadfruit in pits, smoking tree-nuts, and sun-drying nutritious and medicinal oils from Coconut ,Tamanu, and other fruits. 

~ Welcome foreign students as well as Taumako and Temotu Province islanders, to learn practices of cultural wisdom in the lifestyles of the voyagers.  The Hohoaki Hoholau o Lata will become a showcase for using ancient knowledge of how to perpetuate bio-diversity and human health as part of Lata’s systematic relationships between people and natural phenomena of the land and sea.  

~ Build and operate an all-seasons support and service vessel that can provide transport, emergency services, fish commercially, and be the legally required escort to traditional training vessels.

~ Welcome all tribal groups and all ages and genders to participate in the agricultural work,

      vessel constructions and deep sea voyages.

~ Train younger students in deep sea sailing and inter-island voyaging and relationship protocols as practiced by our ancestors.

~ Make monthly (on average) voyages to other islands within the Duffs Group and within Temotu during 2017-19

~ Participate in cultural exchanges, conferences, and celebrations

~ Reinforce the ancient community model of tribal groups working together and helping each other.  Document how it works by keeping a weekly log of meetings, steps, events in the process during 2017-2019.

~ Create government schools curricula and lesson plans for learning/practicing Lata’s agricultural and voyaging technologies...including 8 areas of learning Kaveia defined:

1) Hoolau - voyaging practices, safety procedures, and weather work, sailing maneuvers and performance, emergency procedures, all practicals – includes rigging, shunting, te lapa, what to do if lashings break, capsize, etc. 

2) Kaha – making coconut fiber twist and braids, making hau 3 strand twist

3) Laula – weaving mats = woman teacher. lofting/sewing onto lakau – man teacher

4) Lashings – for all parts of te vaka, te ama, te pola, te laula, etc.

5) Cutting/crafting parts of vaka – te vaka, te lakahalava, te alunga, te matai, te lou, te utongi, te ama, etc. 

6) Winds positioning system (Te nohoanga te matangi) 8 / 16 / 32 positions, seasons, 4 sunrise/sunset positions annually, special winds. Weather-work.

7) Swells and waves – four main huahua and various wind waves, reflected waves and swells around islands, and between islands, currents, etc. 

8) Sky / Asterisms and dark shapes  – 10 guiding ones plus others, rise and set wind positions and how to use each one for star paths, and their wing stars (papakau). Weather that comes when particular stars rise or set.  Opposite partner stars.

~ Document progress of all the activities on video, create an archive and produce instructional dvds.

~ Complete part 3 of We, the Voyager: Lataʻs Children documentary film series

Complete the book Sailing with Lata about how this school came into being, what has been accomplished, what Lata’s system (Te Nohoanga Te Matangi) tells us about the coordination and calibration of natural phenomena that result in best outcomes for voyaging, sustainability, and resilience of island peoples


~ The students acquire competencies and know how to pass them on to the next generation.

~ In the future, when students become successful with their education, get a job, and live a modern life, they will know how to pass on Lata’s knowledge and work habits to others when they return to live in Taumako.

~The students know how to build a halevaka, how to look after TePuke, and how to maintain them.

~ Revive our traditional trading partners on other islands.

~ Invite students from other Islands within the Santa Cruz group/Temotu Province and other Pacific Islands to learn how to grow many varieties of foods and useful plants, build authentic vakas’ with traditional materials, and sail them using traditional wayfinding system. Regrow a partnership network between islands, and between students and foreigners, so as to increase the sustainability of all.

~ Advocate and make awareness that traditional ways of living, sailing vaka, and wayfinding are reliable and environmentally friendly.


~ Encourage tribal groups to work as units, and general community participation in some steps of Vaka building, as practiced by our ancestors.


~ Revive gardening practices and plant gardens to feed the builders and sailors, and to use in emergencies – such as natural disasters.         

~ Revive traditional resource management practices for land and reefs, such as gardening in dis-used kainga and out-islands, and coordinating production with the needs and resources of partners on other islands.

~ Inventory and map plants, animals, and cultural sites of bio-cultural value, including interviews with elders who know these resources


~ Revive steady production of fiber and plant cordages

~ Revive marriage making between people of different islands

~ Assist people of other islands who experience disasters or need help

~ Revive networks of partnership islands throughout the region

~ Revive Duff Islands and Temotu Province as a crossroads at the historical and cultural root of the greater Pacific.

~ Revive traditional shell and feather currencies and sharing protocols that do not require cash money.


~ Create awareness and education of people world-wide regarding the benefits and how-to skills of ancient knowledge

Increase in deliberately beneficial human interactions and relationship with natural phenomena


~ Can prepare, plant, maintain, harvest, & cook all the plants that Lata did

~ Can name the vaka parts and their functions, identify and name the type of materials, plants and trees used

know how to grow, prepare & make each different type of cordage


~ Know and can make of the different type of lashings used- Hau Hola, hau manga and hau umu

master how to select, adze, shape, & fit all parts of the TePuke

~ Know how to grow, prepare & weave laula ( pandanus) mats for the sail.

~ Know the traditional methods of wayfinding tools - Te Nohoanga te Matangi (wind position) names and partners, Te lapa, the swell patterns, the stars, clouds above the islands, the birds at sea, and the relationships between them during different seasons and conditions, and the protocols of preparing to sail.

~ How to predict and modify weather and sea states/conditions


Holau Vaka Taumako Association STEPS and MORE ABOUT GOALS


The charitable org HVTA was registered in May, 2021. After many months of delay because of COVID conditions and rough weather preventing travel to Taumako, a general members meeting of Vaka Valo Association was accomplished at Taumako during September, 2021. Executive Director Luke Vaikawi resigned from VVA, and was confirmed by vote of HVTA membership as Executive Director of Holau  Vaka Taumako  Association (HVTA), with over 95% of community membership.

~ The TePuke that had been waiting for repair at Vanuatu was confirmed to have been so seriously  damaged by the February 2020 cyclone that repair was no longer feasible. HVTA will undertake construction of a Te Alo Lili at Taumako after a halevaka (canoe house) has been built.


- The site for construction of the halevaka (canoe house for Lata School) was ʻhanded overʻ by owners, cleared, and consecrated to the purpose with a huge feast. Identification of natural materials to be used in construction has begun.



~ Prepare new gardens and acquire planting stock for building and sailing projects

~ Inventory food, tree, reef, ocean, and plant resources needed for feeding workers, building and sailing the voyaging   canoe, and for gifts to partners on other islands

~ Pay workers for kaha, owners for trees, and other parts for 3 vaka.

~ 2020 buy 50% rations from Ndeni Island and Honiara for workers and crews from Sta Cruz and Honiara as supplements to local food that is hard to grow for so many students and visitors.

~ 2021 buy 40% rations from Sta Cruz and Honiara for the workers and students

~ 2022 buy 30% rations from Sta Cruz and Honiara for the workers and students

transportation and travel costs of coordinator to make reports.

~ Buy school fees for the workers and students so that their children can go to school when they are building, sailing, teaching and learning


~ Rations and fuel for escort for Sea training and inter Island voyaging


~ Buy safety at sea equipment – EPIRBs, Satphones and data, VHF handheld radios, AIS, flotation gear, survival gear, running lights,, solar power system

~ Video interview elders about each step and activity being done – how did Lata do it?  Interview participants of all ages and genders— what have you learned?  What do you need to learn?  etc.

~ Video recordings of each step, technique, plant work, wayfinding method being used, skill of building, etc.

inclusion of foreign students and visitors in all activities

~ Production of written papers and book, and editing of video products

~ Distribution of written and video materials

~ Continuous and self-sustaining school at Taumako

~ Partnerships and developing network of schools and voyaging enterprises based on ancient knowledge and practices around the world

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