Marumaru Atua arrives safely home to Rarotonga, Photos / Marumaru Atua - Cook Islands Voyaging Society, Taniera Fisher
After two and a half weeks at sea, the traditional vessel or 'vaka', Marumaru Atua, has arrived home to Rarotonga.
The crew, of all ages, were greeted by the warm smiles and open arms of loved ones at the official welcoming ceremony at Avatiu Harbour this morning.
Marumaru Atua crew members happy to be home - Photos / Taniera Fisher
Sam Timoko of the Cook Island Voyaging Society spoke about their 19-day journey, how the weather was good - and bad, and how it felt when they were finally able to "take mama for a spin" out on the water.
In 2017, a fire broke out onboard the same vaka. The crew say it took firefighters several hours to put out the blaze in the starboard hull.
The vaka sustained significant damage which required a new hull to be built. The repairs were estimated to cost 300,000, the Cook Island Government funded $255,000 to see the vaka sail again.
During the formal speeches, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna reminded those in attendance that "we gather today, not as dignitaries or voyagers, family and friends, no, we stand united as people of the ocean, people of the vaka".
The crew getting ready to leave Auckland's Viaduct Harbour - Photo / Instagram
The last voyage for Marumaru Atua, from Aotearoa to Rarotonga was in 2015, also marking 50 years of self-governance for Rarotonga.
Throwback to the 2015 crew - Photo / Instagram
Today's completion of this special voyage acknowledges the years of rebuilding, support and commitment to reviving traditional Polynesian wayfinding practices.
Local support via donations for the crew have been plentiful and for the next three days, they will rest, eat, and share kōrero about their experience at sea.
Watch their full video of the return home (aboard Marumaru Atua) here: