Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cook Islands Pacific Voyagers at Pier 39 in San Francisco

    The Cook Islands Celebrate Their Crew
My aunt, who lives north of San Francisco, joined me for Cook Islands Day on Pier 39 just after the lovely dancers and musicians took a break. They waited on the sidelines as the Cook Islands sailing crew (some pictured here) were ushered on stage joining island dignitaries in a final day of sharing and honoring the Pacific Voyagers.  Fearing she had missed the entertainment, my auntie said, "I thought there was going to be dancing and music!".  Grin.  I told her it was 'ceremony time' and that the music would resume in short order, knowing Cook Islanders. Grin....

An attentive crowd gathered as the Cook Island Prime Minister presented a beautiful heartfelt speech. As he began speaking, the Samoan vaka (double-hulled canoe) drifted into range and her crew decided to have a little fun by chanting - loudly - a traditional song before they sailed off again.  The Prime Minister paused, as did the crowd, to enjoy some playful competition that seems to pervade the essence of all six vaka.  

Back to business... What I learned during the presentation was that the Cook Islands are the first South Pacific island nation to officially protect their ocean habitat - over 2 million acres.  Not only the first of it's kind, but also the largest.  Since then, other archipelago nations have followed suit. This is a critical step in preserving their lively-hood and protecting the primary food source for generations to come. The Cook Islands are also taking steps toward utilizing 100% renewable energy by the year 2020.  Impressive!

VIP's boarded the Marumaru Atua (roughly translated, it means 'under the care of God') for an exhilarating Bay voyage to learn more about the ancient ways of sea voyaging and current environmental concerns of today.  The message was presented clearly - the ocean desperately needs our attention and care to ensure its future and ours.

The Cook Islands crew showed true spirit by giving back so generously to San Francisco with stories, culture, music and dance on Pier 39.  All six vaka are scheduled to sail away at 3:00am for Monterey Bay, only 12 hours after these photos were taken. It's about a 10 hour sail, conditions permitting. During their short stay they will be pampered and cared for in royal style and, in turn, will share their important message and love of the ocean with the Monterey Bay community.

To all the vaka crew on this journey, from my heart,
I say 'Thank You!' but to one especially I say, "meitaki ma'ata".
May you be guided by celestial skies in the company of
friendly fins, tails and good soundings.   

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