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One of seven Vaka Moanas

Fa’afaite, built in 2009, sailed from Tahiti to meet the other Pacific canoes at the 2024 Festival of the Pacific in Hawaii

Fa’afaite at the 2024 Festival of the Pacific in Hawaii.
Photo by Camille Jovenes

Fa’afaite I te ao Maohi is the name of the Tahitian boat that was part of the same festival as the Iosepa. The name means, “The reconciliation of the Tahitian people across the islands of Polynesia, the link between all these islands and the reconnection to the Tahitian roots.”

Fa’afaite at a glance

Fa’afaite was built in Auckland, Aotearoa, in 2009 by Salthouse Boatbuilders. It was one of seven canoes funded by Dieter Paulmann, founder of Okeanos Foundation for the Sea, a company that works to preserve the ocean. They call the 7 boats Vaka Moana’s, meaning canoes of the ocean.

  • Crew member capacity: 16 people
  • Length: 22 meters - 72.2 feet
  • Width: 6.4 meters - 21 feet
  • Departed from Tahiti: May 12, 2024
  • Arrived in Hawaii, O’ahu: May 28, 2024

Equipment on the va’a

  • 8 bunks on each hull
  • Storage for sails, ropes and other equipment in the front of the hulls
  • A private toilet
  • A small kitchen and an office for the navigators and captain
  • 2 safety canoes
  • 1 safety paddle or hoe
  • A star compass
A star compass of Fa’afaite
A star compass of Fa’afaite
Photo by Camille Jovenes

An unexpected early arrival

Eliane Garganta, a crew member of Fa’afaite, said the crew had 10 women and 6 men on the voyage from Tahiti to Hawaii. She added the shape of the canoe was inspired by a Paumotu double-hulled canoe in Fakarava, Tu- amotu Islands. “While the back of the canoe is elevated, the ‘īato or the front is flat to break through the waves,” said Garganta.

The journey to Hawaii was faster than they expected, she said, calling it a “blessed voyage.” As they crossed the equator, she said, the clouds dissipated, showing a starry night sky and a calm sea. “ We took it as a sign of an opening door,” said Garganta.

Before the crossing to Maui, she said, “We saw a false orca, he was about 4 meters. And again, [for us] it was a sign of another door opening.” After the orca departed, the sea became agitated and the captain noticed different clouds, indicating nearby land, she said.

“As we got closer to what we thought was a light from another canoe, we realized it was land,” said Garganta. Fa’afaite and its crew arrived at one of the Hilo–Big Island beaches at 3 a.m., four days earlier than expected.