5000 years B.C. the Austronesia population is flooding across the Pacific Ocean in their va’a, a time before Captain Cook, thousands of years before European Exploration.
Fast forward to the 19th Century and the larger sailing va’a has been exchanged for a more agile stream line version (paopao) perfect to adapt for ocean racing.
In 1860 Tahiti paddled its first ever Alo Va’a Race with paopaos made from natural Island tree wood.
Twenty years later Tahiti hosts its Inaugural National Day celebrating traditional Polynesian culture. Today Hieva I Festival in Tahiti is a world renown festival that showcases Polynesian dance, art, storytelling and of course the ultimate va’a racing where a vast number of countries will be competing in four categories.
This year Tahiti will mark its 136th year of the Hieva I Tahiti.
Va’a is the lifeblood of the nation of Tahiti. On the 20th of November 1984, French Polynesia emblazed on the center of their flag with a proud traditional oceangoing va’a. A flag forever marked with a symbol of the Tahitian love for alo va’a.
Next week for the first time Tahiti will play host to the World Championship of Long Distance Va’a Paddling where all outrigger canoe (va’a) Nations from all over the world will meet to challenge one another to find out who will be the fastest in long distance paddling and the reigning world champion for the next two years.
The races will be held on the Bay of Taone five minutes from the capital Pape’ete on the main Island.
Races will include the single va’a also called the V1 and the 6-man va’a known as the V6. Categories will include Juniors, Master and Open for both women and men with the main event being the V6 Open Men race of 27KM that will be held on the 30th of June at 10am Tahiti time.
The Tahiti TV network will be offering live streaming on the internet along with live TV being free of charge to TV channels across the Pacific and beyond.
Samoa will be sending a National Team to participate in this International Event of Va’a paddling. The National Team consists of 8 open men, 1 open women and the team manager.
Esera Aumua will be racing the V1 Open Men Division of 18KM, Gase Uelese will be racing the Junior Division under 19 of 18KM, Ell Petersen will be racing the Masters Division of 18KM, and the Category of the open women for the V1 will be represented by Dianne Williams from NZ of 18KM.
The main event of the V6 category will raced by (as Seated on va’a)
1. Fanuatutasi Esekia
2. Tupu Joseph Fua
3. Edward Peseta
4. Billy John Peters (Team Leader)
5. Jonathan Pulusau Porter
6. Ell Petersen (Steerer/Skipper)
And accompanied by team manager /coordinator Francis Tagaloa Te’o.
Five of the open men and Dianne Williams will be racing the Te Aito V1 Event as well on the 24th and 25th of June. That would be the very next day from arriving in Tahiti.
The Te Aito is the toughest V1 race around the world with a distance of 25KM for the Open Men Division and 15KM for the Masters, Junior’s and Open Women with over a 300 hundred V1 paddlers shooting off to race at the same time for the open men division.
Samoa is a Nation of rugby from union to league and from seven’s to touch, it is what Samoa bleeds. And for many rugby fans boxing is the next best thing with David Tua’s heavy knockouts to our new son of Samoa Joseph Parker rising to the boxing world of fame one fight at a time.
Then we have our weightlifters, many who have made our country proud year after year along with many other sports with its athletes striving to be the best.
For all sport lovers who enjoy their passion to get out, get sweaty and dirty, to feel the pain of that hard work out to gain their goal and achievement and their efforts to obtain that glory of victory….hats off and give yourselves a big pat on the back with a round of applause. As we all know it is not easy when the ultimate goal is to become a world champion.
Tahiti may have the best paddlers of the world along with the Land of the Long White Cloud.
By far these two nations have proven that time and time again in the International paddling arena. Tahitians are the best because paddling to them is like rugby to Samoa and many other Pacific Nations not to mention NZ.
Paddling is their National Sport and going to Tahiti to race against the Tahitians will be like going to NZ to play rugby against the All Blacks as we just all witnessed. Is it improbable for Manu Samoa to beat the All Blacks in NZ?….Yes…. Is it impossible?....Absolutely NOT! - -Refering back to paddling, at the end of the day, you take away the western languages of English and the French and all you have left is the Mana (The spiritual knowledge of the Land and Sea passed on from generation to generaton) of the Pacific Islands from Micronesia to Melanesia to Polynesia.
For, if there is one thing we must remember is we all come from the same bloodline, from the same heritage, from the same people and through one voyage thousands upon thousands of years ago we all inherit the same MANA. We all have the Mana in us.
The ocean has been our source of food for thousands of years with the paopao as our vessel to feed our families from generation to generation. Only one thing comes before the ocean to our people. It is the Creator of the ocean, the One who gives us the Mana to live by it and Who gives the courage to survive through rough stormy seas when our ancestors sailed to the four corners of the earth Island to Island.
I for one am very proud of our Tahitian brothers and sisters.
They have embraced this culture of alo va’a or paopao and have developed it into an amazing sport that is taking the world by storm. And if there is anything we can learn from them, it should be on the basis of how the rest of the Pacific Islands can embrace the culture of Alo Va’a as they have since the year 1860, when the amazing sport of Alo Va’a was born.
For the National Paddling Team of Samoa, keep the faith for you have achieved the works. Feel the MANA and enjoy the race. You deserve it. James 2:14-26....Always PROUD of the MANU!