„I like to work on land and on the ocean – earth on my hands and seawater in my face!”
Kalolo Steffany was watchcaptain on the Samoan Va’a Gaualofa. He never stopped being a crew member, although he was on a training in Japan for a year and has been working for Women in Business Development in different agricultural projects. As captain, Kalolo is currently one of three crew of the Gaualofa that was handed over to the Samoan Voyaging Society after the end of the Te Mana O Te Moana. He is part-time involved in agriculture, but when the Gaualofa is on the water, he lives on the Va’a, safeguarding her.
Okeanos: As a watchcaptain on the Gaualofa, what were the special moments during the Te Mana o Te Moana voyage that you haven’t forgotten until today?
Kalolo: The storm we went through when sailing from New Zealand to Tahiti. That was really tough sailing! You had to learn – or die. And then all the people you meet. The friends you make on the way!
Okeanos: So you are still strongly connected to the Gaualofa. What are the issues that you deal with when taking care of your Va’a.
Well, we like the challenge! One of the big challenges is finding the funding that is necessary to maintain the Va’a. I would love to create a stronger connection between the Pacific Voyaging Societies that emanated from the Te Mana O Te Moana. If we have a strong network, things like ordering spare parts or anti-fowl-paint or doing crew-training but also insurance issues could become easier for us, lowering our maintenance costs.
Okeanos: How did the Te Mana O Te Moana change your life?
Kalolo: I think it was the path I needed to join. Wherever the Va’a goes, I go too. Going to all these new places and making friends that became part of my family. Although I had several jobs on land since 2011, I always came back to the Va’a. And maybe it is exactly what we have to understand: land and sea are connected.
Okeanos: What are your visions for the Gaualofa and the Samoan Voyaging Society?
Kalolo: I have the vision of us being financially sustainable, being able to have more permanent people engaged, creating a strong organization and being a platform teaching traditional navigation. Why traditional navigation? Because this is knowledge that can help young islanders positioning themselves in the modern world!
Regarding the network of Voyaging Societies, I can understand that the societies want to remain independent, but I believe that in some issues we really have to come together and work as a team.