FOR the first time ever, the seven ocean-going vaka (canoes) of the Pacific Islands voyaging society will be in Fiji in June.
The seven vaka, including the Uto ni Yalo, will make the stopover in Levuka and Suva before continuing on to Honiara for the Pacific Arts Festival.
Fiji Islands Voyaging Society president Colin Philp said upon arrival the crews would be accorded traditional welcomes, both at Levuka and Suva.
"We chose Levuka as the first stop because it was the country's first capital and it is also a historical site so it was logical for us," Mr Philp said.
"The canoes will be at Levuka on the 8th or 9th of June and they will be coming from Apia, Samoa where they will be a part of the country's 50th independence celebrations."
Mr Philp said as part of celebrations to receive the seven vaka and their crew, locals would get a chance to hear first-hand accounts of life on board the vessels as well as issues facing our oceans.
"In Levuka, George Patterson along with other shipping companies will be bringing students from Lomaiviti and other areas around Fiji to attend the workshops on Levuka.
"When the vaka get to Suva they will head for the University of the South Pacific lower campus foreshore where they will join the week-long celebrations for World Oceans Day," Mr Philp said.
He explained the vaka would then depart Fiji between the 16th and 18th of June and head to the Solomon Islands for the Pacific Arts Festival.
The vaka arrival at the Pacific Arts Festival will bring full circle the journey that was conceived at the Pacific Arts Festival in 2008 at Pago Pago, American Samoa.