Te Aliki Koloso Kaveia (deceased 2009)
The late Paramount Chief and Master Navigator of Taumako, Originator and Creator of the Vaka Taumako Project
Known by many names, Te Matua, Te Aliki, or simply Old Man Kaveia, Kruso Kahia Kaveia was born at Kahula, Taumako; the birthplace as his ancestral father, Polynesian culture hero, Lata. A voyager from the age of 8, and having learned navigation from his father, Kaveia sailed the Santa Cruz Group for twenty years during an era when many voyaging canoes were confiscated by missionary and colonial authorities. Kaveia was Mate on a trading scow that ranged between northern Santa Cruz Islands and Port Vila, Vanuatu during the early 40’s through WWII. In 1980 he led building a TePuke and navigated from Taumako to the western border of Solomon Islands. For many years, Te Aliki Kaveia was the last able-bodied link to the voyaging culture of the Duff and Reef Islands Polynesians. In 1993 he recruited Dr. George’s help to realize his plan to teach a new generation how to build and sail voyaging canoes using the ancient methods. He passed away in 2009 at the estimated age 98.
Te Aliki Jonas Hollani
Chairman of Vaka Valo Association, Chief Builder, Navigator
Te Aliki Jonas learned to build voyaging canoes from his father and uncles. Jonas was foreman for Kaveia in building TePuke and Te Alo Lili designs, and practiced steering and seagoing with him on various voyages. Jonas became Captain of voyages and teaching after Kaveia died, and Jonas leads the Vaka Valo Association in training more crew and taking longer voyages. Jonas is over 85 years old and trying his best to lead and teach for as long as he can. His ready sense of humor is greatly appreciated by all. Jonas and his wife, Janet Longomaha, raised 4 sons, all of whom are remarkable community leaders. Dixon and Ambrose have crewed on several voyages of TePuke and TeAlo Lili canoes. Jonas’ grandmother was the mother of 3 children who went away to school in Vanuatu almost 70 years ago, and no one ever saw them again. Despite years of delays because of climate change, Jonas wants Vaka Valo Association to sail to Vanuatu to see their long-lost cousins before they die. Jonas has been nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award of Pasifika Renaissance on Facebook.
Captain Luke Vaikawi
Executive Director of Vaka Valo Association, Captain
Luke Vaikawi was born and raised on Taumako. He attended boarding schools and prepared for a career on the ocean. Luke served as Captain of the patrol boat Lata, chasing illegal fishing boats, searching for lost mariners, and keeping the peace, as a Maritime Police officer for Solomon Islands government. Vaikawi also led international safety and rescue operations. In 1995-96 he helped his grandfather, Kaveia, start the Vaka Taumako Project. In the photo above Vaikawi stands between relatives in Vanuatu. In 2019 Luke retired from the Marine Police and became Executive Director of VVA. Luke helps VVA by coordinating the massive transportation and communications logistics between Taumako, Honiara, and the United States. Luke has made presentations representing Vaka Valo Association in Guam and the Pacific Northwest of Canada and the USA. In 2018 Luke crewed on the TePuke voyage from Ndeni to Vanikoro. He longs to see youth of Temotu sailing freely throughout Solomons and Vanuatu.
Marianne “Mimi” George, Ph.D
Principal Investigator of Vaka Taumako Project, Sailor, Anthropologist, Director of Pacific Traditions Society
Dr. Mimi George is an anthropologist, sailor, and writer specialized in voyaging cultures. She documented voyaging traditions of islanders in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Siberian Yupik Eskimos in Alaska and USSR. Her research voyages included using ancient polar technology, and 19th century European technique of wintering-over by freezing a sailboat in the sea-ice of Antarctica. She supports building vessels and making voyages using ancient technology, materials, tools, and navigation methods.. While Te Aliki Kaveia was alive, Mimi made 25 inter-island voyages in the Santa Cruz Islands, and one voyage from Duffs through Vanuatu, with him navigating or following his sailing directions. She helped Kaveiaʻs grandchildren create films as Kaveia requested (We, the Voyagers: Lataʻs Children), wrote articles about Kaveiaʻs teachings, and aims to complete the book “Sailing with Lata” in 2021.
Heu’ionalani "Meph" Wyeth
Permanent Secretary of Pacific Tradition Society
A Director of the Ka’imi Na’auao o Hawaii Nei Institute, pottery conservator on archaeological digs, and paddler extraordinaire, Meph helped start the Vaka Taumako Project and has been Permanent Secretary since it started in 1996. She studied hula and Hawaiian language and culture with Kumu Hula Roselle Keliihonipua Bailey of Maui since 1985. Ka’Imi Na’auao o Hawaii Nei Institute was founded By Roselle Bailey for the preservation and teaching of Hawaiian culture. Meph performed Hawaiian protocol with Kumu Bailey at the 1997 launching of the first Te Puke of the Vaka Taumako Project. Meph continues to compose, perform, and write about the Vaka Taumako Project, as a Director of Pacific Traditions Society and in support of Vaka Valo Association.
Honorable Stanley Tehiahua
Director of Vaka Valo Association and Temotu Province Coordinator
Honorable Stanley was trained as a primary school teacher, considers himself an educator, and hopes to go back to teaching. He did, however, agree to be elected to be a four-term representative for the Duff Islands in the Temotu Provincial Assembly. He headed the Committee on Culture and Tourism and represented Solomon Islands in a trade mission to Vanuatu in 2011 to open the border between the two countries. Hon. Stanley serves on the board of Vaka Valo Association and helps with various logistics and coordination efforts. He crewed on the TePuke that sailed from Ndeni (Sta Cruz Island) to Vanikoro in 2018. Hon. Stanley wants to show the other assembly members that there are voyaging canoes at the ready to sail for Vanuatu. He wants to see the students realise that their culture is still alive, and see the old people cry for joy. He needs support for costs of communications. This lack prevents him from coordinating more voyaging programs.
Te Aliki Peter Taea (deceased 2019)
the late Navigator and Chief
An experienced navigator, based on Nifiloli Island. From 1998 - 2019, Peter used his mental library of maritime wisdom, and leadership, helping Taumako and Vaeakau crews with canoe-building.and set an high standard for crew work during inter-island voyages within Outer Reef Islands . Peter and his helpers took care of the Te Alo Lili when it was left on Nifiloli during the off-season of 2012 and 2013. Peterʻs positive, committed, and no-BS manner was appreciated by all. He is greatly missed.
Te Aliki Fox Boda
Captain, Navigator, Steersman
Chief Kaveia’s son, Fox is heir to the great voyaging tradition of his ancestors. Fox has mastered how to adze out inside the ends of the main hulls of voyaging canoes. In 2000 Fox and his son’s sailed the Te Puke named Vaka Taumako back from Pileni to Duffs. One
ne’er do well had spread rumors that this canoe had rotted on Nifiloli and would never sail again. But Fox led the maintenance work on the vaka and then led sailing it back to Taumako. As they passed the area where the rumors had been spread he yelled “Here is your rotten vaka!” Fox makes fine models of Te Puke for his grandchildren and for sale to anyone
to earn the mone. He looks forward to the opportunity to lead his children,
grandchildren and extended family in construction of a full scale TePuke at the birthplace\ of Lata, the first voyager, at Kahula, Taumako.
Dr. Simon Salopuka
A Director of Vaka Valo Association, Solomon Islands
Born and raised on Taumako, Simon Salopuka left for boarding school at 11 years old. He was the first Taumakan to go to university, and the first to earn an advanced degree (BS and MA), “Doc Simon” temporarily puts aside his career in medicine and public health to learn how to return home to learn how to build and sail Te Puke. He lead the Vaka Taumako Project for
4 years, coordinated with the Solomon Islands Office of Education, assisted in film and archival translations, facilitated logistics, and served as medical officer during voyages.
In 2014 Doc Simon, Luke Vaikawi, and other Taumako leaders registered the Vaka Taumako Project of the Solomon Islands/Vaka Valo Association Trust Board (VVA) as a
charitable organization. In 2018 Salopuka moved to Honiara where his older children attend secondary schools. He is again working as a physician and is also one of the Honiara-based directors of VVA.
Director of Vaka Valo Association, Steersman, Navigator, Captain
Ambrose Miki, son of Chief Jonas Holland, comes from a long line of builders and is mastering the most difficult adze work and lashings. Miki is a Director of Vaka Valo Association. He is growing to be a skilled sailor and navigator as well. His goal is to be a professor in the Lata Cultural Voyaging School, and continue teaching next
generations the riches of their culture. Miki wants them to find an easier time than he did dealing with the frustrating lack of transport
and resources to make their lives better. Miki models himself after Lata, who made some mistakes but improved the lives of his community by building TePuke and making voyages. Miki wants to help youth become aware of and skilled in the gifts of their heritage, Miki motivates them to work hard to help themselves and others in lasting ways. In 2018 Ambrose led the voyage to Vanikoro, and was a foreman for his father in building a 11.5 meter long TePuke during 2016-18.
Dixon Holland Wia
Cameraman, Producer, script-writer, Narrator, assistant editor, voyaging crew, during 1996 - 2018.
A crew member on the Vaka Taumako Project’s first voyage in 1998, Dixon Wia Holland met his wife-to-be on arrival in Nifiloi. He and Emily have five children, and all of them seem to have
Hollands “gotcha” sense of humor. Holland showed an aptitude for videography and received basic video training in Hawaii in 1999 with Larry Williamson of the Pacific Traditions Society. Holland assisted BBC and German film crews, and shot over 200 hours of video, himself, documenting traditional boat building and sailing methods in his community. Since 2005, Holland dedicated himself to learning Kastam (customary knowledge). Holland learned most from the VTP media master Jacob Penchansky, and made translations of the 2012 and 2013 recordings. He assisted BBC videographer Wade Fairley during two voyaging programs, and was a narrator and assistant editor in the first two of the We, the Voyager films.
Larry Williamson (deceased 2016)
Former President and Web Designer (deceased)
President of VTP for more than 10 years, our dear friend Williamson designed the original vaka.org website, and helped in the production of VTP’s early video efforts. Williamson gave training to Dixon Wia, Jennifer Vailau, and other video students from Taumako. Williamson visited Taumako in 2007. He said it was the fulfillment of his dream to just lie in a fishing net swing and see the adults building canoes and the children learning how. His kindness and acuity was appreciated by all cross-culturally. His son Arlen is a great paddler in Hawaii. Williamsons wife Helen is now living with Arlen and family, and proudly wears the shell necklace that Chief Jonas presented her with in gratitude for her feeding and caring for his son Dixon when he was visiting Kauaʻi. Williamson passed away in 2012. We all miss him.
Leaving his job as a logger to join the crew, Harry has quickly become one of the hardest working crew members. Harry is first born in his family, which is a privileged and very responsible position in Taumako community.
Harry is very gifted and is determined to use his gifts to make his community stronger and happier. Harry did not go far in government school education. He was also appalled by what he saw in his job as a logger and in his years in Honiara. He is married with two young children and many younger siblings
some of whom aspire to go on to university. Harry aims to support his sister in doing that. She graduated from secondary school with high marks 4 years ago, but is now caring for family members and waiting her chance. Harryʻs personal goals is to be a Captain of a voyaging canoe.
Graphic Designer, Animator, Climber, Sailor, co-founder of Arcteryx, Healing Arts Practitioner
Since 2005 Daniel Jackson has been making diagrams and animations illustrating the teachings of Te Aliki Kaveia. His work is featured in Mimi Georgeʻs articles and in We, the Voyagers films ... particularly in We, the Voyagers: Our Moana, which features many animations of ancestral signs/oceanic phenomena that Kaveia taught his students how to navigate by. Jacksonʻs experiences at sea, as a filmmaker, in designing practical and elegant gear, and his generosity as a volunteer for cross-cultural and Indigenous causes qualify him to do the hardest jobs and do them well. We hope that Jackson, and his long time partner Vanessa Kruszelnitsky, will go to Taumako in coming years. Jackson and Mimi George working in photo above.
Multimedia Producer, Filmmaker, Sound Recordist, volunteered for VTP and VVA radio and film projects between 2005 and 2018. Continues to contribute and advise when called on.
Jacob produced, directed, wrote, recorded, and edited much of We, the Voyagers films. He also trained Dixon Wia and worked closely with many Taumako and Vaeakau community members. Jacobʻs radio stories and audio recordings have been broadcast on National Public Radio, PRI’s “The World,” the Nature Conservancy Podcast, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and Outer Voices. Jacob has recorded traditional musicians in more than 30 countries. He’s a contributing writer for the Rough Guide to World Music, has helped preserve audio recordings for Easter Island’s Museo Anthropológico, guided BBC radio production crews through Southeast Asia, documented endangered native languages in Alaska, created films for various aid organizations, built radio stations and trained journalists and folklorists throughout south and southeast Asia. Jacob is the producer and director of the award-winning film The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya and oversees the Mountain Music Project’s musical education projects in Nepal, Burma, Thailand, and Bhutan.
Taumako Filmmaking Student and Videographer 2019 - April, 2021. Board Member (Director) of Vaka Valo Association
Daisy was born and raised at Taumako. She completed two years of university in Honiara, and remained there assisting in community projects while searching for ways to resume studies. Daisy has a "good eye" and knows what she wants to capture by camera. In July, 2020 she completed taking a filmmaking course. In October she was issued a donated laptop to edit her final assignment to complete the course and went to Taumako and do interviews and action footage with women cultural experts in voyaging, and their students. These video subjects could be important parts of the third and final film in the We, the Voyagers: Lataʻs Children film series.