Jef Ikenn is a crew member of the Stop Deep Sea Oil flotilla crew, which represents a coalition of groups that are opposed to the plans to drill for deep sea oil in the Raukūmara Basin off the East Cape. The flotilla is currently in the area to make a stand against that threat.
Tēnā koutou katoa. Ko puke rawhiti te maunga. Ko te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa te moana. Ko kahakura te waka. Nō Kanata me Nōwei ōku tupuna mā, engari tāku whakāro tātou katoa te iwi kotahi. Ko Jef Ikenn tōku ingoa.
We leave in the early hours to join the flotilla with supplies, and then continue the sail to Whangaparāoa Bay at Cape Runaway.
On arrival in Whitianga, supplies and crew were shuffled between the four vessels sailing to the East Cape to be welcomed by tangata whenua.
The sailing vessel Siome, based in Pēwhairangi/Bay of Islands, has been an integral part of this mission, and my base at sea. At 77ft, Siome is competently handled by Alan Meyer, owner and skipper with a proud sailing history of protest to protect our environment, including the 2000 Nuclear-Free Tasman flotilla.
At 4pm Siome, along with the venerable Vega, Secret Affair and Windborne, sailed out from Whitianga to the songs and support of 100 locals, into the Bay of Plenty.
The day continued with the same favourable wind direction and we passed our most active and smoking volcano Whakaari/White Island on our way to Whangaparāoa. Bringing up the rear of the flotilla, we arrived on the southern end of Whangaparāoa at Waihau Bay at five that evening. It was a perfectly still and peaceful scene, as we swam and soaked in the beauty of this pristine part of the country.
We lifted anchor and sailed to the shore of Kauaetangohia Marae at the northern end of Whangaparāoa Bay, along with the rest of the flotilla, including the 120 foot Infinity.
Once ashore, we turned to a kaitaki/haka leader beckoning us to walk forward towards the pōwhiri area up the beach, and a 100 strong haka by the local people. Words fail to describe the energy, but it can best be described as TU MEKE! Having witnessed countless pōwhiri, I have to say that this one particularly stood out for me as a hononga, a connection between Maori and Tauiwi/Pākehā that must be honoured and strengthened. We have a common passion and goal, and combining our skills and knowledge will make us unstoppable.
After heartfelt whaikōrero (formal speeches), a prepared poem by the Infinity crew, and some impromptu words as well, we concluded the formal protocol in the traditional manner with harirū/hongi and kai.
After a long day, people were relocated for a decent rest, and crew returned to their vessels in preparation for the next day.
As a tangi for a local kuia was already begun earlier in the morning, we needed to pay our respects to the whānau pani/grieving family and the tūpāpaku/body of the deceased, before having our final poroporoaki and departure to our vessels.
We returned to the vessels with knowledge from the locals that the Petrobras contracted vessel, the Orient Explorer, had left the port of Tauranga, heading to the Raukūmara Basin to begin its seismic survey. Incidentally this survey is being conducted now in the height of the whale migration season, the route of which passes directly around the East Cape!