By Ame Sene Tanielu
APIA: 08 June 2012: The traditional sailing double hulled canoe, Gaualofa, has been gifted to the people of Samoa in recognition of the country’s 50th Independence anniversary.
The gesture was announced publicly during the nite of the Independence Ball, Saturday, June 2nd, at the EFKS Hall, Mulinu’u.
His Honorable Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, accepted the gift and thanked the Pacific Voyagers Administrator, Dieter Pullman and his wife Hanna on behalf of our people.
Representing the Pacific Voyagers to present Vaatele Gaualofa to the people of Samoa, was Tua Pittman, lead Captain of the fleet of seven Va’atele that participated in Samoa’s Golden Jubilee.
President of the Aiga Folau o Samoa, (Samoa Voyaging Society), Tuatagaloa Joe Annadale, and the crew were in tears of joy when first heard of the news, from Tua. The Samoa Voyaging Society (SVS) was established in 2009 following the President’s dream of having such Vaa for Samoa.
Vice President, Leilua Ame Sene Tanielu says, “The commitments from the crew of Vaatele Gaualofa and her Captains, SVS’s administration, Samoa’s business community, sponsors and especially with the support of our government, had all contributed to the decision by Mr Pullman to gift the Va’a to the people of Samoa.”
The current crew is all Samoans where some of them were recruited from Savaii and Upolu, American Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, America,Canada and Europe.
Gaualofa arrives in Fiji this week with the rest of the fleet, heading to the Solomon Islands for the Pacific Arts Festival in July 1st 2012
and would return to Samoa afterwards. Her future plans would include the continuation of educational trips to the villages offering opportunities to share the crew’s experiences with the schools in Samoa.