The Vaka Taumako Project (VTP) of the Pacific Traditions Society, under Direction of cultural anthropologist and sailor Marianne “Mimi” George, had a research permit in the Solomon Islands for 20 years. During that time the George, and the VTP, worked in support of the aims of Te Aliki Koroso Kaveia—the main aim being to teach a new generation to build and navigate voyaging canoes using only ancient designs, methods, materials, and tools. Kaveia died in 2009, and his students are now leading these efforts through their own organization, Vaka Valo Association (VVA).
VVA, also known as the Vaka Taumako Project of Solomon Islands (VTPSI), was officially registered as a Solomon Islands charitable organization in 2014. Starting January 1, 2017, the VTP officially works under VVA in Solomon Islands. VVA is run by a Board of Directors. Dr Simon Salopuka is the Executive Director of VVA. Dr. George is a non-voting, international member of the VVA Board of Directors.
VVA Media and Lata Voyaging School (Lata Hahoaki Holau)
VVA will launch their own website as soon as can be afforded. There is still no electricity, phone, or WIFI service in Duff Islands. What is posted on the wpvaka.wpengine.com website is usually done from Hawaii. When Dr Salopuka is not in Duff Islands he sometimes can access internet and make posts to wpvaka.wpengine.com and vakataumako on facebook. VVA will also launch their own facebook page as soon as possible.
VTP and VVA are collaborating on completion of a 2 part documentary film series “We the Voyagers.” The film is in roughcut form. Completion funds are needed.
As soon as a permanent structure can be built, all photos, recordings, video footage, reports, publications, and other archival materials that have been gathered by the VTP (and are being stored by the VTP) will be available in the Halevaka (Canoe House) Archive of the Lata Voyaging School. Architectural plans of these structures are nearly completed and we are fundraising to begin construction as soon as possible. Eventually it is the plan of VVA that the Lata School will welcome voyaging students from local and international venues.
Hahoaki Sea-Training Programs
During 2017 two main voyages were planned. Holau Ndeni (voyage to Sta Cruz Island) was accomplished June 2-4. Holau Vanuatu will begin as soon as the right wind comes in November. During July – October maintenance will be done on both TePuke—Vaka Valo (the one at Ndeni) and Vaka Causey (the one at Taumako). When Vaka Valo is relashed it will be used in sea-training around Duff Islands. When Vaka Valo reaches Vanuatu, it must stay there several months until the right winds blow so it can sail back home to Taumako, or onward to another international venue, such as Fiji or New Caledonia.
International Voyaging Programs and Festival Participations
VVA is hoping for an invitation, and some necessary per diem support, to voyage to Honiara to participate in the Melanesian Arts Festival in June/July 2018.
VVA hopes to participate in the FestPac in Honolulu in 2020. In 2010 VVA also hopes to complete the Te Alo Lili (that was begun in Hawaii in 1999), sail it to FestPac, and then after FestPac is over, sail it home.
There are other gatherings of voyagers planned for 2018 and 2019 that VVA aims to participate in.
VVA is proposing youth exchanges and voyaging student training exchanges with students from other islands and countries. VVA aims to re-establish partnerships and networks of voyagers throughout the islands of Temotu and beyond.
VVA seeks an emergency and support (and small cargo) vessel with an auxiliary engine to run in service of Duff Islands and other remote islands of SE Solomons.