It has been a cold and windy day in Auckland today. Thankfully the rain clouds that threatened all day have not given us any rain or the temperature would fall another 5 degree’s.
Last night a group from Naitasiri cooked up a huge BBQ dinner for the crew and there was even enough food to feed the hundred or so well-wishers who showed up to share the evening with us.
I had planned all day to have an early evening to try and catch up on paperwork and much needed sleep which has become a commodity in high demand in Auckland.
The kava was once again flowing early in the evening and Hector Zinck and the Catholic community in Auckland visited us bringing gifts of food and provisions for the next voyage.
Fonua Panapasa and Graham Dewes also arrived with 5 cartons of Hubbards Foods Cereal for the voyage. Hubbards make some very high quality cereals which are so important the nutrition of the crew.
Ruci Farrell and Greg Trail were busy with our cook Rupeni, making a list of other food needed for the voyage. Ruci and Nemai Vucago both work for Niu FM/Pacific Radio in Auckland and they kindly offered to get the word out to the Fijian community on our needs for the voyage.
The response from the Fijian community has been overwhelming and a true indication of the support our historic voyage is receiving. Each day people just show up with food items so we are never short on food.
Yesterday, Douglas Ashby, son of well known Fiji businessman and accountant David Ashby, showed up at the Marina with a fiberglass repair kit for the Uto ni Yalo. The Ashby’s lived in Lami for many years and David was a founder of Island Bottlers which later became Coca Cola.
Douglas runs a fiberglass business in Mt Wellington and David is driving to Auckland this weekend to go boating so we hope to catch up with him before we depart. In fact they just called as I was writing this to see if we can catch up.
This morning we had a very early start, which was very difficult given the late evening we had entertaining all our guests.
Hoturoa Kerr had organised a charter for us this morning. We were to take 16 youths and 7 adults out sailing for 3 hours in what turned out to be a 20knot southwesterly.
There was a familiar face in the group when Mama Liz jumper aboard. Mam Liz was the cook on Te Matau A Maui, the vaka that 6 Fijian sailors helped sail from Vava’u to Fiji late last year.
Leaving the dock was very tricky with the wind on the stern and the 60hp Yamaha struggled to bring the canoe out of its berth.
The visiting youths each received a Uto ni Yalo crew member as a buddy and were made to help with sailing the canoe through Auckland harbour.
I stayed ashore to continue doing the paperwork required for our departure that is planned for this Sunday. So I was on the dock to help with getting the Uto ni Yalo safely into it’s berth again.
Several crew members from Samoa and the Cook Islands also helped on the pontoon fending off and casting lines. The wind had freshened to 25knots and the berth only has about a metre either side of the canoe so it took a good 30 minutes to get her safely moored.
Once the canoe was secure, we gathered everyone together for a Karakia (masu) and then the visitors moved on to the dock to do a Haka. While they moved ashore, skipper Johnathan Smith aka the Chief Serenader, led the crew in a Fijian number.
Once the song was finished the visitors went right into a well practiced haka which caused quite a lot of interest on the dock and soon people were rushing over to watch.
As soon as the haka was finished the Uto crew responded with the ‘Vutala na Ua’ bole. There was a huge round of applause following the bole and the crew swung right into a moving rendition of ‘Isa lei’.
Our visitors left us with a very generous “Koha” or gift of $1000 and a very touching message, which reads:
To our brothers and sisters aboard UTO NI YALO,
We thank you for your open arms and heart felt welcome.
This experience will forever be etched on our hearts and minds……it will serve as a reminder of our interconnectedness as family of Moana Nui a Kina.
Please accept this koha as a small token of aroha..….. from us to you as you prepare for the next leg of your journey