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The Latest Dispatch | The Expedition | Expedition Resources

SpaceThe first aku caught on route to Mangareva.
The first aku caught on route to Mangareva.

Headed for Mangareva
Friday, August 27, 1999
by Kamaki Worthington

  • Tell me more about Mangareva.

    At 8pm HST, Hokule'a departed Pitcairn Island for Mangareva.

    Navigators' Estimated Position at 6 pm, 08/26/99: 24 deg 19 minutes S, 120 miles along the reference course line. (Actual Position from GPS: 24 deg 42 minutes S, 131 deg 59 minutes W.)

    Navigators' Estimated Position at 6 am, 08/27/99: 23 deg 55 minutes S, 120 miles along the reference course line. (Actual Position from GPS: 24 deg 22 minutes S, 132 deg 58 minutes W.)

    Navigators: Kathrine, Moana, Aldon

    Heading: Last 24 hrs., 'aina ho'olua @ 5kts (under tow)

    Wind: Manu Ho'olua (NW) @ 15

    Swells: Manu Ho'olua (NW) @ 4ft, (SW) Manu Kona 1ft

    Clouds: Cumulus, altocirrus, and cirrus

    Changes: Wind switched from West to Northwest and increased in speed.

    Steering at night by: Na kuhikuhi (Alpha/Beta Centuri), Hanaiakamalama (Southern Cross), Ke'oe (Vega), Humu ma (Altair), ikaika (Jupiter) and makulu (Saturn)

    Latitude stars: No stars were available for measuring latitude.

    Canoe and crew: All crew are 100 percent healthy, Hokule'a is also being constantly maintained at sea; hulls pumped, deck cleaned, canvas repaired.

    Fishing Report: Not many fish ... again.

    Crew Quote: Today, we spoke with a crew member from Lana'i, Gary Suzuki. Gary is one of the hardest working crew members on Hokule'a. He's always helping others and has a lot of energy; "To be on Hokule'a for me is an honor. I feel I'm very lucky to be here, so I try to do my very best. Hokule'a sails for all Hawai'i Nei."

    About Mangareva
    by Dany T. Carlson

    According to the 1996 population census, there are 860 inhabitants on the main island, three on Taravai, four on Kamaka. The nearby atoll Marutea (Tuamotu Archipelago) counts 214 persons, all working for a private pearl farm.

    The state primary school on the island has three classes of kindergarden, with 76 children, and five classes of primary school with 124 students (1998-1999 figures). After primary school (10 to 11 years old), children move to Hao (Tuamotu) or to Tahiti to continue their studies. The Catholic Church operates a technical school (CED, "Center for Educational Development) for carpentry, mechanics, electricity, and mother-of-pearl shell engraving. The studies last three years. Fifty teens are enrolled, 12 from Mangareva and 38 from the Tuamotu Archipelago (Reao, Pukarua, Tatakoto, and Hao. Statistics are based on 1998-1999 figures).

    The main religion is Catholicism. (See Honore Laval, missionary in Mangareva from 1834 to 1871, "Mangareva, l'histoire ancienne d'un peuple polynésien," published in 1938 by la Maison des Frères des Sacrés-Coeurs, 16 rue Damien, Braine-le-Comte, Belgique; and by La Librairie Oriental Paul Geuthner, 12 rue Vavin, Paris VI.) Everybody is Catholic, except one Protestant family at Rikitea and the family living on Kamaka. Saint-Michel Cathedral built at Marau Tangaroa site, Rikitea, is the biggest of all French Polynesia (48m long, 18m wide, 21 m high). Its altar is decorated with fine pearl oyster engravings. Last Friday, February 5th, 1999, a young Mangareva man was ordained a Catholic priest here in Tahiti; he is the first Mangarevan to become a priest. Many Mangarevans came from Mangareva, from New Caledonia, to join the ceremony.

    Today's economy is based on mother-of-pearl culture. Pearl oysters grow faster in Mangareva than in the Tuamotu lagoons. Is it due to a cooler temperature and/or to a higher nutrients content. Mangareva black pearls are beautiful. There are 47 family-operated farms, most of them situated around Mangareva island. The biggest private farm of all French Polynesia, Tahiti Pearls owned by Robert Wan operates three farms, one at Taku (NE part of Mangareva), two at Aukena island.

    During the Atomic Testing era, Mangareva used to export fresh vegetables to Moururoa and Hao. Two families still grow a variety of vegetables that are partly sold on the island and partly exported to Hao. Flowers are also grown to decorate the cathedral.

    Traditional culture survives in the braiding of natural fibers such as pandanus, coconut, opaero (rush) for hats ; tiny pink and yellow shells are also strung for neck and head leis. Breadfruit is still fermented and eaten as popoi by a few families.

    Plastic containers replace the traditional earth pit. A huge ancient arii breadfruit pit, finely lined with volcanic rocks, remains near the cathedral at Marau Tangaroa.

    Mangareva traditional dances are called pe'i. While the male and female group dances and chants in the back of the stage, a few actors play the story in the front. The recitative chants are very fascinating. The story rells about some oral history of Mangarevan pre-christian heroes or are inspired by biblical episodes.

    Do you know how to say "Hello" in Mangarevian? "Kia purotu koe!" ("May you remain beautiful!")

    Previous Dispatches
    July 14, 1999, "Reaching the Marquesas"
    July 31, 1999, "In Taiohae, Nukuhiva"
    August 13, 1999, "Departing Atuona"