Lately, the AWBF Organisers have been reaching out across the seas to likeminded boat nerds to make friendships and share stories.
Mike Tavioni, a distinguished representative (and wooden boat nut) from the Cook Islands, was one of them. Mike is an expert artist and vaka craftsman. Wouldn’t it be a delight to have him here in Hobart to share his insights and experiences on the sustainable practice of ancient vaka making for the 2025 AWBF!
What is a Vaka you ask? A Vaka is a traditional Polynesian watercraft – also known as an outrigger canoe. They are stable and can handle rough seas and strong currents, making them the perfect watercraft for the Pacific Ocean.
As a renowned expert in vaka craftsmanship and preservation Mike is well respected for his passion for teaching. With the goal of preserving traditional boat-building techniques and a great understanding of their relevance in contemporary times, his presence at the festival would be certain to captivate and inspire boat enthusiasts, historians, and sustainability advocates alike.
Drawing from his extensive knowledge and hands-on experience, Mike shares the intricate craft and sustainable practices employed by skilled craftspeople in creating these magnificent vessels, highlighting their important connection to nature and the environment. Earlier this year Mike and his team launched nine vaka’s as part of the Mana O Te Vaka boat building and sailing project.
Mike owns and operates his gallery in the town of Rarotonga, and it is also an art school. He has completed further studies in Fine arts, has worked with bone art and traditional tattooing and was even the feature of a doco in 2021, Taonga: An Artists Activist.
If you’d like to see more of Mike Tavioni’s work, here is a great video from the Cook Islands Tourism group.
Wouldn’t it be great if he gave us a visit in 2025?!