We, the Voyagers: Our Vaka

57min | Documentary | Polynesia

We are the crew of Lata, the Polynesian culture-hero who built the first voyaging canoe and navigated across the Pacific.

Director: Marianne George

Writer: Marianne George

Stars: Simon Salopuka

SUN. 11/15    15:00

We, the Polynesian voyagers of Taumako, Solomon Islands, share our history, motivations, and skills, through story-telling, canoe building, and wayfinding. We recall our ancestors, who made the greatest of human migrations. We use only the designs, materials, and methods of our culture-hero, Lata, who built the first voyaging canoe (vaka) and navigated to distant islands. When Europeans took over we became isolated. To help us regain sustainability, Chief Kaveia, our most experienced navigator, led us in training new generations to plant gardens, feed workers, make rope from plants, weave and sew sails, protect our trees, adze parts for voyaging canoes, and lash them together. Kaveia also enlisted an anthropologist to help us make this film. After he died in 2009, we built a vaka and Chief Holani, Kaveia’s former crew, became our new Lata and prepared us for the test of an open ocean voyage. The story of Lata teaches us that everyone is welcome in Lata’s crew, and that we can avoid making certain mistakes as we strive to connect with long-lost family and new friends on faraway shores.



Simon Salopuka

Dixon Wia Holland

Jonas Holani

Ambrose Miki

Peter Vaea

Joslyn Sale

Anna Haely

Harry Vanosi


Camera: Wade Fairley, Jacob Penchansky, Dixon Wia


Sound & Editing: Jacob Penchansky


Stills & Graphics: Marianne George, Ph.D., H. Meph Wyeth, Daniel Jackson, J.W. Beattie, Princeton University Library