BEING trained to know more about traditional navigation skills and bringing back home that knowledge to share with locals is the mission of six Fijian men on board Polynesian vaka — Marumaru Atua and Hine Moana — that departed for Tonga this week from Savusavu.
Under the guidance of Captain Peia Patai of Marumaru Atua and Captain Magnus Danbolt of the Hine Moana — the men — Setareki Laveti, Jim Tuimoce, Steven Tawake, Manasa Narita, Benjamin Sorby and William Peniata have only considered themselves blessed.
In being taught traditional navigation by Captain Patai is an opportunity they said would help them revive a skill lost since the time of our forefathers.
Jim Tuimoce said since joining Captain Patai in July after leaving the Fiji canoe, Uto ni Yalo, he had learnt so much about traditional navigation.
"I used to just hear stories from our grandfathers and uncles about our forefathers traditionally navigating their canoe to sail from one island to another," Mr Tuimoce said.
"But being trained to traditionally navigate a canoe and to start learning about reading the stars is a bonus for all of us," he said.
Setareki Laveti said they would return home to share their knowledge with locals.
"It is important that we revive a lost art of our forefathers. We get excited when Captain Patai calls us to assist him with reading the stars and knowing the wind direction," Mr Laveti said.
"It is one of the most useful things we have learnt to use when technology fails and we feel it is important that traditional navigation is still being taught for guidance," he said.
His talents and gift in the art of carving have also been used by Captain Patai. Mr Laveti, who is from Naividamu Village on the island of Fulaga in Lau said carving ran in the family.
"Captain Patai asked me to carve a traditional compass to be used for navigation and I worked under his instructions.
"Even while carving the different Polynesian names of wind direction and other names to lead us while using the traditional compass, I was just so amazed at the knowledge our captain has," he said.
With the traditional compass carved on the wooden floor towards the back of the canoe, metallic bands are arranged on the railing of the canoe and are used together with the compass to help direct the captain when he uses traditional navigation.
Mr Laveti said when they returned home, they would share the knowledge gained from Captain Patai in the hope of reviving traditional navigational skills.