The Cook Islands Voyaging Society was the recipient of Social Impact Funding Grant for Te Uki Ou kia Akamatutuia e kia Rangatira i te Teretere Moana (Developing Voyagers for Future Generations) program, the funding for this program ended 30 June 2020.
The heart of the program is teaching youth about themselves, about cultural connection, cultural pride, healthy lifestyles, leadership, peer mentorship, self-confidence, and caring for each other and the environment. As part of the program we promote gender equity by encouraging young women to join as crew and to participate in voyaging providing female mentorship from experienced crew and encourage everyone to have an active voice in decision-making.
This program relates directly to the mission of SIF in terms of promoting youth participation in the future of the Cook Islands. This program develops youth leadership, strengthen family and cultural values, and provide a support system for youth-at-risk. Over the next three years, our program will continue to target our youth in the Cook Islands to expose them to the values and importance of the vaka in terms of cultural connection, pride, and leadership. Research shows that cultural connection and mentorship are two of the strongest factors in preventing negative youth outcomes for indigenous youth. This program also directly relates to the SIF mission of gender equity by ensuring that young women are an active part of the navigation education program and that at least fifty percent of new recruits include women. Young women will have mentorship from experienced female crew members and encouraged to be active in the educational process as leaders.
This program embodies at least five of the National Strategic Development Plan goals. The program addresses the following goals:
- Goal 7: Improve health and promote healthy lifestyles by teaching youth about traditional voyaging diets and encouraging their fitness if they decide to become a crew member.
- Goal 8: Inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities by providing a pathway into learning about themselves, their culture, and the environment.
- Goal 9: Accelerate gender equality, empower all women and girls and advance the rights of youth, the elderly, and the disabled by focusing the program on youth and particularly girls and young women.
- Goal 12: Sustainable management of oceans, lagoons, and marine resources by emphasizing the zero impact of the vaka, the sustainability of traditional voyaging, and the importance of caring for our environment.
- Goal 14: Preserve our heritage and history, protect our traditional knowledge, and develop our language, creative, and cultural endeavors.
Tiana Haxton has been coming to trainings for a year and a bit now since Marumaru Atua returned from New Zealand. She has never done an actual voyage, just beyond the reef in Rarotonga. Today she departed for Mangaia onboard Marumaru Atua.
Tiana has wanted to be part of the vaka somehow since she first saw her off the shores of Mitiaro… with her current job being in Media she has got more capability with visually capturing the stories she want to see told. She has been tasked with filming this voyage, which will be the start of the making her documentary and mini docu series projects, making her dreams a reality… . We hope Tiana will inspire more young women to join our crew.
Facebook post by Marumaru Atua – Cook Islands Voyaging Society, 25 August 2020