The Vaka Taumako Project

Perpetuating Polynesian Voyaging
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Marianne "Mimi" George
Education
Kapa'au, Hawaii
United States
1 Team Member
This campaign is raising funds on behalf of Pacific Traditions Society, a verified nonprofit. The campaign does not necessarily reflect the views of the nonprofit or have any formal association with it. All contributions are considered unrestricted gifts and can't be specified for any particular purpose.

We're Teaching a New Generation of Polynesian Voyagers

Aloha!

We're the Vaka Taumako Project, a team of sailors, anthropologists, filmmakers, and hardworking local volunteers working since 1993 to perpetuate the unique and endangered ancient arts of Polynesian canoe-building, voyaging, and navigation.  Today, we invite you to join us in helping to keep this knowledge alive.

The striking vessel you see here is a traditional vaka, a voyaging canoe from the island of Taumako, in the eastern Solomon Islands in the South Pacific Ocean.  These magnificent craft are built by hand using only sustainable local natural materials.  Using precise navigational skills based on a comprehensive system of wind, waves, and stars, these vaka are sailed for great distances without the use of any modern technology.  The maritime knowledge of Taumako Polynesians is quite possibly the only fully authentic Polynesian voyaging tradition still alive in the entire Pacific Island community. 

Sadly, as often happens to ancient traditions in our rapidly modernizing world, this wealth of knowledge is at risk of extinction.  As petroleum-based shipping and western-style economic development reach Taumako, many locals are worried that this amazing cultural heritage will soon be lost.

Our Goals

As they say on Taumako, if you want to build a voyaging canoe, the first thing you must do is plant a garden, to feed the workers who will help you. 

Today we're planting the seeds to feed the next generation of Polynesian canoe-builders and navigators, who will be the students and teachers of the Lata School of Navigation on Taumako Island.

In this campaign, we're raising funds to realize the following goals:

  1. To build a full size Te Puke voyaging canoe for the Lata Navigation School.
  2. To complete an educational video that both documents and explains how to build and navigate these superb vessels.

Perpetuating Polynesian Heritage

If you can imagine distant islands connected by sea roads, just as our own cities are linked by highways, you have an idea of how these islanders see their oceanic world. But throughout the Pacific, Polynesians were forced to stop using their own vessels for several decades of colonial rule.  In 1993, when we first met master navigator Kruso Kaveia on Taumako, there were only a few living sailors who could still build and sail a voyaging canoe.

Since then, through the efforts of the Vaka Taumako Project, many Taumakan youth have mastered building the smaller types of traditional vaka.  Some have sailed them to nearby islands where they found marriage partners and reunited with families and communities. Now voyaging students need complete their education by building a larger type of vaka, the Te Puke, so that they can navigate to more distant islands. 

The Vaka Taumako Project is also dedicated to sharing knowledge of the ancient arts with anyone who is interested.  For 17 years the building and sailing have been recorded on video, and the goal is to complete production of an educational video program to share with the world.

Where the Money Goes

We are looking to raise $50,000 to cover the costs of building a new full size Te Puke voyaging canoe and documenting the process so that future generations can access this knowledge.  Funding goes directly to pay for rations for workers over the next 1.5 years of construction, and to pay for school fees for the children of workers, who must give up their regular wages in order to volunteer for construction during that time.  Funding also goes toward the translation and editing of the archive of interviews and step-by-step video documentation of the building and navigation, which will be made available in English and local Polynesian languages.  

The Vaka Taumako Project operates under the wing of the Pacific Traditions Society, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, based in Kapa'au, Hawaii. 

Perks

We have amazing incentive gifts for our donors, including unique works of art, stunning images of the vaka at sea, intricate models of the vaka, handmade local jewelry and crafts, and the chance to meet Taumako artisans and participate directly in voyaging.  That's right, there are a few spots available to actually sail on these canoes.  For details and pics of our perks, please click here.

The Impact

Every day we hear how climate change, fossil fuel dependence, and loss of old ways are impacting us.  This sustainable ancient knowledge has answers we are looking for today. This is a real world opportunity to help keep an irreplaceable tradition alive for generations to come.

We've been working with the Taumako community since we were first invited there by their chief, Kruso Kaveia, in 1993.  Since that time, we've published academic research, produced documentary films and organized several successful voyages, which you can check out on our website.  

Other Ways You Can Help

We know not everybody can contribute financially.  But you can still help by telling your friends and family about our project and this fundraising campaign.  Please join us on facebook and twitter and spread the word!

From all of us at the Vaka Taumako Project,

Mahalo! Tenk Yu Tumas! Oli Efa! Thank You! 

Find This Campaign On
$1,085USD
raised by 15 people in 1 month
2% funded
0 time left
Verified Nonprofit
$50,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on December 31, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $5USD
    Thank You Note

    A postcard thank you note expressing our eternal gratitude, and featuring the iconic image of a voyaging canoe. It doesn't take much to help us out; a little goes a long way!

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: February 2014
  • $10USD
    Digital Wallpaper Download

    Download 5 beautiful images of the vaka voyaging canoes at sea for your computer desktop, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: February 2014
  • $20USD
    Music Downloads

    5 MP3 downloads of lovely music recordings (unavailable anywhere else) we made in the Temotu Province, Solomon Islands. You'll also receive the 5 wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: February 2014
  • $25USD
    Coconut Necklace or Earrings

    Your choice of necklace or earrings, each hand-carved and lacquered with traditional Solomon Islands design, plus 5 wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $25USD
    Carved Shell Earrings

    Handmade Shell Earrings from the Solomon Islands, plus music downloads, digital wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    1 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $40USD
    Ebony Necklace or Earrings

    Your choice of a beautiful ebony earrings or necklace with pearl shell inlays of traditional Solomon Islands design, plus 5 mp3 music downloads, 5 wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note and our eternal gratitude.

    1 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $50USD
    Shell Money Necklace

    Made with colorful and traditional shell money beads, these necklaces are a favorite souvenir from the Solomon Islands. You'll also receive 5 mp3 music downloads, 5 wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    1 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $50USD
    Traditional Woven Basket

    A traditional Solomon Islands style basket woven of natural pandanus leaf, plus music downloads, digital wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    3 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $60USD
    Vaka Taumako Project T-shirt

    A stylish Vaka Taumako Project T-shirt, plus music downloads, digital wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    1 out of 200 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $100USD
    T-shirt & Jewelry Package

    Our stylish T-shirt, a shell money necklace, plus music downloads, digital wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    0 out of 25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $150USD
    11x14 Photo Print

    Suitable for framing, a gorgeous 11"x14" matte print of the vaka at sea, plus music downloads, digital wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    1 out of 25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: March 2014
  • $200USD
    Stone or Coral Animal Carving

    Hand carved in the Solomon Islands, choose from sea turtle or fish designs. You'll also receive 5 mp3 music downloads, 5 wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    0 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $350USD
    Temotu Style Canoe Paddle

    The most desired paddles in the Solomon Islands come from Taumako. They have a distinctive carved design and are made robustly from Tamanu (Callophylum) root that has grown on the tide line of the ocean. You'll also receive a VTP t-shirt, music downloads, digital wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    1 out of 6 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $800USD
    Herb Kane Print

    A large limited edition print created by the late Hawaiian master painter Herb Kane, featuring a Te Puke voyaging canoe at sea. The print is 24"X36" giclée on canvas, frame not included. You'll also receive a VTP t-shirt, music downloads, digital wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    0 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $3,000USD
    Model Vaka - 1.3m

    A detailed scale model of a Te Puke voyaging canoe. These one-of-a-kind models, just over a meter in length, are hand built in the Duff Islands, where they are traditionally used used as teaching aids. Each part of the vaka is made from the actual wood or plant that is used in the full size canoes. These exquisite models are museum quality, and unavailable anywhere else. We'll also include a t-shirt, music downloads, wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    0 out of 2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2014
  • $5,000USD
    Sail on a Voyaging Canoe

    Spend a day sailing with the Temotu master navigators on a traditional voyaging canoe. You'll need to provide your own transportation to Santa Cruz, Reef Islands or Duff Islands, but we'll help you coordinate. This is an incredibly rare opportunity, and impossible to do as a tourist. Please email us with questions before choosing this donor perk. You'll also receive a VTP t-shirt, music downloads, digital wallpaper images, a postcard thank you note, and our eternal gratitude.

    0 out of 4 claimed
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