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Seven Polynesian voyaging canoes sailed across the Pacific beginning last year, and their voyages continue as part of a historical education and environmental project called “Te Mana O Te Moana”. The voyage name, which translates to ‘The Spirit of the Sea’ was begun to raise awareness about the state of the ocean and revisit the wisdom of the Polynesian ancestors who loved and respected the sea.

Organized by “Pacific Voyagers" the voyage began in New Zealand in April, 2011. It  included a flotilla of seven voyaging canoes from different Pacific regions including: the Atua vessel from the Cook Islands, Haunui and Hine Moana (Pan Pacific) Te Matu A Maui from Aotearoa (New Zealand), Faafaite from Tahiti, Uto Ni Yalo from Fiji and Gaualofa from Samoa.

Sala McGuire, a native of American Samoa is part of the ‘Samoa Voyaging Society’ (Aiga Folau o Samoa) which sailed across the Pacific on the Va’a Gaualofa as part of the Te Mana O Te Moana Project. The Gaualofa consisted of crew members of Samoan descent from the Samoan Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States.

“The canoes were built to teach young and old about the sailing traditions of our ancestors,” said McGuire. “The voyage has been going on for almost two years now, with many crew changes along the way to provide a sailing opportunity to many Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians.”

“The voyage is aiming to reconnect Pacific Islanders with the ocean and to acknowledge and honor the feats that our ancestors overcame while populating the Pacific Islands,” she said. The Gaualofa has sailed to California, Mexico, Costa Rica, Galapagos, Tahiti, Cook Islands and Samoa.

She went on to state they are promoting environmental awareness and concern for our oceans.

“As Pacific Islanders, we rely heavily on the ocean for food and transportation. Currently, our Pacific Ocean is in great danger due to pollution, over-fishing, acidification and climate change. Everyone on this planet has affected the health of our Oceans, without even knowing. Every second breath that every person takes on this planet is created by the Ocean. What the world — and especially Pacific Islanders — need to know, is that each person can make a difference by being responsible for their actions,” she said.

She said that simple things like not using plastic bags, throwing trash in garbage bins and not on the ground, driving less and walking more, using environmentally friendly products and buying locally grown produce go a long way in preserving the health of our planet and especially our Oceans.

“Lastly, in an effort to spread the Te Mana O Te Moana Project message further, a documentary is being filmed about the voyage, and a film will be released in the fall of 2013. “The trailer is fantastic and can be viewed at,” she told Samoa News.

Sala McGuire grew up in Tutuila, American Samoa, and is of the villages of Iliili and Lauli’i and is the daughter of local residents Jim and Helen McGuire.

She left American Samoa in 2001 for college and is now living and working in San Francisco. She was active as a Junior Sailor at the Pago Pago Yacht Club, which promoted junior sailing for many years, and is looking into additional certification and sailing credentials at this time.