Cook Islands’ Voyaging History on Display

Happy New Year!

Let’s kick-off the year with a story from last year-

Last month the Cook Islands News ran an article written by Melina Etches about how the National Museum began an exhibit called, “Voyaging Vaka of the Cook Islands.”

For Vaka Marumaru Atua captain, Sam Timoko, the exhibit has been an overwhelming experience. Looking at the artifacts of Vaka Takitumu including its bow, and photographs and paintings of Cook Islands vaka brought him to the realization that he, too, would like to pay homage to Pa Tuterangi Ariki Sir Tom Davis (former Prime Minister of Cook Islands) for launching the renaissance voyaging in the Cook Islands.

Timiko revealed to guests at the opening that he had first seen Vaka Te Au Tonga on the movie “Johnny Lingo” on television in New Zealand and it had made a deep impression.  I thought, “Wow, what a beautiful vessel.”

Timiko, who has lived on Rarotonga for 10 years, revealed joining the Voyaging Society six years ago had changed him. “Voyaging has changed me, as a person… it’s a great job, not an easy one.”

He recalled the devastating fire in September 2017 that destroyed the starboard hull of Vaka Marumaru Atua. She was restored to her glory in New Zealand with the help of government, supporters and people of the Cook Islands. The vaka sailed back to Rarotonga in June 2019. “We want to share her with the Pa Enua (outer islands), there will be more visits to the Pa Enua next year.”

Cook Islands National Museum/Runanga Pakau director, Justina Nicholas, said the second section of the exhibition was in partnership with the Voyaging Society. It shares the history of the revival of the voyaging vaka, and the valued contribution of the late Sir Tom Davis to the country, the formation of the voyaging society, and the launching of Vaka Te Au o Tonga, Vaka Takitumu and Vaka Marumaru Atua.

Exhibition themes include traditional navigation, the role of the Cook Islands Voyaging Society and the Okeanos Foundation in the Pacific and the historic two-year voyage of Te Mana l Te Moana (The Spirit of the Ocean) from 2010-2012, which culminated with the gifting of Vaka Marumaru Atua to the people of the Cook Islands.

Footage of modern voyaging events and images are also on display.

The photographs will be auctioned in April 2020 to raise funds for Marumaru Atua’s planned voyage to Hawaii.

“Voyaging Vaka of the Cook Islands” will run until June 5, 2020.


The Vaka Marumaru Atua, photo by

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s