In 2007, Dieter Paulmann and the Okeanos Foundation began working with navigators and voyaging societies across the Pacific to develop and build a fleet of seven traditionally designed, fossil fuel-free double masted Vaka Moanas representing 10 island nations.
The international voyage Te Mana O Te Moana (The Spirit of the Ocean) began in April 2011 and launched a renaissance in traditional vaka culture, ocean stewardship and engagement. Over the course of two years, hundreds of sailors navigated from Aotearoa to Hawai’i to the US with a historic arrival at San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge and back making stops at 15 Pacific nations along the way.
Collectively the Te Mana O Te Moana fleet safely sailed 210,000 nautical miles of open ocean and showed the world the great power and potential of the vaka. After the voyage, Dieter gifted four Vaka Moana from the Te Mana O Te Moana fleet to Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti and Cooks Islands and are now operated by the voyaging societies of the countries.
It was during the international voyage that Pacific islanders shared their urgent need for reliable and sustainable sea transportation. As a result, powerful and transformative ideas collectively emerged as to how traditionally designed modernized vakas could best be incorporated into the daily lives of the Pacific people.
Today, Okeanos continues to build upon the success and trained community of Te Mana O Te Moana. Under Dieter’s leadership, two new vaka designs have emerged from information shared by many different island groups. The Vaka Motu is specifically made for Pacific inter-island transport and both culturally meaningful and environmentally sustainable while satisfying all sea transportation needs. The solar electric catamaran Okeanos Pearl is the first of its kind and designed for environment-friendly, noiseless and comfortable tourist transportation. It is an alternative draft to the noisy, pollutive, diesel-powered vessels that are operating in many places in the Pacific islands.
Okeanos’ new vaka technology connects the best of the past with the best of the future including solar panels and, most recently, coconut oil-fueled engines, perfectly suited for fossil-fuel free transport of people, food, medicine, and supplies between Pacific Islands.
Today, the Okeanos community is actively taking steps to implement a pan-Pacific vaka network that supports the region’s cultural, sustainable development and climate change preparedness goals.