25 Jul 2008

Cook Islands vaka reaches Pago Pago

10:23 am on 25 July 2008

After seven days at sea, the Cook Islands Te Vaka Te Au o Tonga has finally arrived at the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts.

The vaka, which travelled from the Cook Islands to American Samoa, was due to

arrive at the official welcoming of the festival on Monday, but it's journey has been hampered by bad weather and rough seas.

The Cook Islands team waited at the dock for more than an hour to see Te Vaka te au o Tonga ride in - singing, chanting and dancing as the vaka sailed in.

The governor of American Samoa, Togiola Tulafono, was there to welcome

them in.

The skipper, Garth Henderson, was the first to set foot on dry land.

He says the trip was tough to the very end.

"I don't think its sunk in because I was quite worried coming in, it was very rough. Very tricky coming across the passage. We've got an old-style boat which is not easy to handle. And even coming alongside it was very tricky. If we did it wrong we would have smashed the boat in. I'm still getting over that."

He says the vaka team will make the journey back to the Cook Islands as

soon as the wind changes.