Uto Ni Yalo / Fiji

The Fiji Islands Voyaging Society is thrilled to have been a part of this truly historic voyage. For the motley crew of thirty-two crew members from all over Fiji and Rotuma, led ably by “Dau Levu”, Capt Johnathan Smith, this sail meant untold blessings for ourselves as well as the people of Fiji, now and for generations to come.

As we set sail along ancient migratory routes, once again connecting our islands by canoe as our ancestors did many hundreds of years ago, let us remember a great man who recently left us.

Herb Kawainui Kane, first Captain of the Hokulea and founding member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), was a keen supporter of our young society. We pay tribute to his foresight and to PVS for leading the resurgence of traditional voyaging.

We would also like to pay homage to the great wisdom and knowledge of our forefathers who roamed the vast Pacific Ocean with phenomenal exactitude, dexterity, and fearless cheer.

On behalf of the President, Prime Minister, respected chiefs and elders, the people of Fiji and the captain and crew of the Uto ni Yalo, I want to sincerely thank Dieter Paulmann and the Okeanos Foundation for making this all possible. I would also like to acknowledge our partners IUCN, WWF and sponsors.


Colin Philp

A Fijian Story

The Fiji Islands Voyaging Society is proud to be a part of a Pacific Renaissance seeking to recapture knowledge, traditions and values of our rich maritime history. Some of our more immediate goals are:

CANOE CULTURE : Revive and sustain traditional Fijian canoe building, sailing and navigational knowledge, skills, and customs. Undertake open ocean voyages along ancient Pacific migratory routes and help re-establish historic ties and significant cultural links with people all over the Pacific.

ENVIRONMENT: Advocate sustainable development and preservation of the Fiji and Rotuma’s marine and land environment through resource renewal and public education programs, by working alongside government, and both public and private organizations, with similar goals and objectives.

ARTS + CRAFT: Advocate rediscovery and preservation of traditional arts such as customs, craftmanship, song, dance, and other non-tangible assets.

The Fijian canoe is named Uto Ni Yalo which quite literally translates to ‘Heart of Spirit.’ Having said that, the Fijian language – not unlike other languages in the Pacific – is filled with poetic expressions that sometimes contain complex or abstract ideas which lose some, if not all, intended meaning when interpreted literally. Uto Ni Yalo can be best described as the spiritual state of original being.

Is the Uto Ni Yalo a Fijian Drua? You guessed right – it is not if you are talking about its design. The Uto Ni Yalo is a fusion of traditional central Pacific canoe design, utilizing modern boat-building materials and technologies. Together with the other six other canoes, the Uto Ni Yalo was built with the generous support of Okeanos in Auckland at Salthouse Boatbuilders. These newly designed sailing canoes (vaka moana [Pacific]/waka hourua [Maori]) are all constructed of e-glass and foam, using advanced infusion processes. Nevertheless, traditional ingenuity and knowledge remain clearly visible with the twin hulls cunningly connected by wooden beams and lashed only with rope. Each vaka is finished with intricate traditional designs, and carved and painted using colours and insignia representative of each nation.

Much effort and detail has gone into creating a truly eco-friendly vaka that harnesses only wind and current to travel. To aid maneuvering in tight modern berthing stations, or to assist in harbor entries, a solar powered system serves as an auxiliary propulsion option. This merging of past and the present ideas serves as a useful metaphor for solutions to our planet’s energy and climate change issues.

The Fiji Islands Voyaging Society have ambitions to build the magnificent Drua in the near future.

We invite interested individuals or organisations to be part of our family. Please visit fijivoyaging.com for more information.


  • Colin Philp

    Dau Laca or Sail Master. Suva – Vasu Vanuabalevu, Lau. Businessman. Vutala Na Ua 2010 sail master. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 Sail master.

  • Moala Tokota'a

    a.k.a Rua Na Miniti. Lakeba, Lau. Environmental Field Technician. Vutala Na Ua 2010 crew. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

    Both culture and the environment hold a dear part in Moala’s heart. A veteran to field work, this paddling enthusiast has extensive experience making science and conservation messages accessible to Fijian communities. His field experience includes bird surveys, mammal trapping, wetland work, and a wide range of arthropod collections. Moala’s skill with arthropods has recently earned him a new species of Dolichopodid fly, Plagiozopelma tokotaai, named in his honor. A former employee of Wildlife Conservation Society, Moala now works for Coral Reef Alliance.

  • Manoa Rasigatale

    Rewa, Viti Levu. Cultural Advisor/Consultant. Vutala Na Ua 2010 crew. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

    Manoa is a cultural icon in Fiji, having made significant contributions to the culture and the arts both locally and abroad, in an illustrative career spanning over thirty-five years. Today, Manoa shares his time producing his own Television show and caring for his grand kids.

    “The drua/vaka project fulfills part of my mission in Life. The ocean and all its diverse inhabitants are all an important part of the cycle of life.” quips Ratu. One feels the weight of Manoa’s wisdom and experience as the conversation continues. I am left with an impression that this man’s whole life has been a dedication to the untold stories and secrets of his people, their land and sea, and that the canoe is a central part of that dialogue.

  • Steven Tawake

    a.k.a - Sti or Bernie Mac. Vatani, Kaba, Bau, Levu. Sailor. Vutala Na Ua 2010 crew. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

    Steven is a man that brings both laughter and prayer to the Uto ni Yalo. This easy going giant is calm under adversary and wears one of the biggest smiles on the Uto ni Yalo. It’s been confirmed that Steve took his pair of rugby boots with him and have since scored a match with Pita Fatialofa’s (a.k.a Fats, the legendary former captain of Samoa’s national rugby team, and Super 14 front-rower) team in Auckland. Some of us are stunned/shocked/amused by the foresight displayed here by Sti.

  • Jonathan Smith

    Dau Levu or Captain of the Uto ni Yalo. Vasu Kadavu, Merchant Sailor/Skipper. Vutala Na Ua 2010 captain. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 captain.

  • Carson Young

    Chinese, Vasu Kolomatua, Tonga. Designer/Art Director/Artist. Vutala na Ua 2010 crew. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

  • Kaiafa Ledua

    Kabara, Vasu Nayau. Fisherman/Sailor. Vutala Na Ua 2010 crew. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. Vavau whale watching 2010 crew upon the Hine Moana. Lomaiviti whale survey 2010 crew. Ringgold isles turtle tagging 2010 crew.

    A graduate of Fiji’s National Youth Band, Kaiafa is an avid musician and an integral part of the Uto ni Yalo serenaders. Kaiafa is also a practitioner of traditional weaving, using natural coconut fiber (magimagi). His handiwork adorns various parts of the Uto ni Yalo. A huge part of Kaiafa’s life now revolves around what appears be the man’s calling. Kaiafa is now part of the Uto ni Yalo’s core leadership team and his participation means he can continue the proud tradition of his family and village’s legacy as skilled canoe builders and sailors.

  • Benjamin Valentine Sorby

    a.k.a Ben – Chef (Cook for the Uto ni Yalo). Te Mana o Te moana 2011 crew.

  • Agnes Margaret Sokosoko

    a.k.a Aggie – Artist and youth worker. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

  • Josua Wainigasau

    a.k.a Naua - Namalata, Kubulau, Bua – Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. That Joshua found the Uto no Yalo, or the Uto ni Yalo found Joshua is nothing short of a miracle. A self employed farmer living off the land in a remote corner on Vanua Levu, only a chance meeting with Colin and Jonathan – while the Uto ni Yalo was berthed in Bua, Savusavu – got Naua a crew spot. It must be mentioned that Joshua did outwardly display great interest in the vaka when it showed up, and this did not go unnoticed with Colin or Jonathan. It should also be noted that both Colin and Jonathan have always wanted to have a wide and even representation of Fiji villagers on the canoe and so this augmented Joshua’s case.

    Naua is also a very able musician and is ambidextrous with the guitar. This last few months, Naua has been learning about the various threats to our oceans; slowly but surely he has been gaining confidence with advocating for a more sustainable ocean – a concept, he and most his fellow villagers would find quite foreign.

  • Jovesa Tanikorolevu

    a.k.a Joe – Te Mana o Te Mana 2011 crew.

  • Peni Vuadreu Vunaki

    a.k.a Ben Vuadreu. Solodamu, Kadavu. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. Ben comes from a tiny island village where life is as slow as it can get in Fiji. A farmer and fisherman by trade, Ben has lived off the ocean most of his life. Seven years ago, Ben was privileged have met and crew with Peter and Alison Nuttall. Peter a Kiwi geographer, has for the past decade has called a sailing ship traveling the Pacific, his home. “We (Pete and Ali) learnt to live, travel, work and play on a fossil fuel budget of less than one litre a day for a family of five. We use just two litres of fuel to travel from NZ to Fiji,“ quips Pete.

    Seven years on, Ben is convinced that our seas must be better managed and protected. With a huge smile on his face, Ben has one hand held up high for our oceans and other also held high for the Uto ni Yalo and her crew. Peni fondly remembers something that Pete said to him many years ago but something he didn’t really made sense of then “One day, sailing will take you places.” That day has come.

  • Mausio Mafai

    Rotuma. Retired school principal. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

  • Vilisoni Yalikanacea

    a.k.a Vili or Bill. Nukuni, Ono I Lau. Boat-builder. Vutala Na Ua 2011 crew. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

    If not crafting boats and canoes at one of Fiji’s premiere boat building establishments (The Fibreglass Shop), Mr Bill-Fix-it-All can be tracked sailing on the Tau as a long time friend and trusted deck hand. This Maritime Studies graduate’s claim to fame on the Uto ni Yalo includes severing an index finger on the second day, during the Suva-Auckland sail in 2010. The fact that Bill was to willingly continue and finish the entire 3 month voyage is a testament this man’s spirit.

  • Kelekele Lausi

    a.k.a Kele - Savusavu, Vanua Levu. Vutala Na Ua 2010 crew. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. Lomaiviti whale survey 2010 crew. Ringgold isles turtle tagging 2010 crew.

    Kele has committed a large part of his recent years to canoe paddling and sailing. This young man brings alot of youthful enthusiasm to the group and is always keen to get a game of touch rugby going amongst the lads. On the water, Kele has a repertoire of drives but none is more impressive than his signature maneuver, a crowd favorite plunge called the Penguin.

  • Christopher Baleinarara Cokanasiga

    a.k.a Chris. Deuba, Serua. Vasu Moce, Lau. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. Chris walked straight out of the long halls of University of the South Pacific and right into the inner santorum of the Uto ni Yalo. An environmental studies graduate with a brain battered with academic theory, the long trek to Hawaii which culminates with the Kava Bowl Ocean Summit 2011 was not something he was going to easily to let go. Talk is cheap, says the ever pragmatic Chris. Talking to this budding environmentalist, one gets the feeling that Chris is treating this journey with a more purposeful scientific eye.

  • Angelo George Mangella Smith

    a.k.a Ado – Kiribati/Nananu, Tailevu vasu Wallis Futuna. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. This Maritime Studies graduate hails from a family with a rich seafaring history. Angelo considers himself a bonafide half-caste, having a late maternal grand father from as far as Wales. After working at the docks in burning west for the last few years, it seems that fate has finally rewarded this young man to take to the ocean in grand style. An admitted stick-in-the-mud kind of guy from a small neighborhood in Lautoka, Angelo is ready to ride the wave of his life.

  • Elina Naigulevu

    Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

  • Lee-Anne Lee

    Videographer. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. Lee-Anne is a very competitive person who loves sports particularly Outrigger Paddling where she has represented Fiji at South Pacific Games and World Championships level for over 20 years.
    For a girl from Ra, it is unusual that she has such a strong love for the ocean but growing up in Suva helped her build her appetite for Ocean Sports. Her Father Vilitati Lee was a very talented soccer player who represented Fiji and now keeps in close contact with his village Savulotu in Ra working on projects to improve the lives of those in the village.
    She will be the dedicated camera person on board the Uto ni Yalo documenting the voyage for future reference for generations to come.

    Known as “Bubu” on board because of constant nagging and trying to keep order amongst the crew, in a short space of time Lee-Anne has become a very important member of the Uto ni Yalo crew.

  • Harold Tapu

    Samoa. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. Harold’s association with the Uto ni Yalo goes back to the earliest of days. A very significant contributor to the success of the Vutala na Ua 2010 voyage, this Aucklander would finally make time to join the 2011 Uto ni Yalo crew. Even then, this did not prevent him and his family from tirelessly working to serve preparing for Te Mana o Te Moana.

    Harold spent his more formative days in FIji, while his dad was serving as a church minister. Of genuine laughing Samoan stock, Harold is a top-notch story teller that can get the crew going in more than one way. Harold’s legendary dedication to the Uto ni Yalo has created such an impression on the crew that is simply hard to keep him out of anything. Advocating a sustainable ocean is not exactly a frontier for our dear friend from Auckland, who has done and seen enough to know that much work lies ahead.

  • Sisilia Lau

    Solodamu, Kadavu. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

  • Andre Manueli

    Kadavu. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. Andre is the youngest member of the crew and is proud to be challenging himself by committing to the journey. Not one to be shy, Andre has thrown himself at every opportunity to be counted, even if that means doing more than his fair share on the canoe. Andre talks freely about issues relating to the ocean like it is part of his life. He speaks about the world being asleep while mother ocean suffers in silence from the greed and abuse caused by men.

  • Jona Dovanu

    a.k.a Bill - Druadrua, Macuata Vanua Levu. Vasu Juju, Rotuma.

    The son of a preacher man, Jona is your tough brick and mortar guy on the canoe. An ex-construction worker and keen rugby player, Jona has been described as fairly quiet but one that goes about getting the business done.

  • William Peniata

    a.k.a Billy Boy - Leoulumoega, Upolu, Samoa vasu Taituraga, Rewa. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. Ringgold Isles turtle tagging 2010 crew. William brings a very special kind of energy (or mana) to Uto ni Yalo. He is the sort of guy that can find humour when the chips are truly dashed. A new chapter in William’s life began one warm evening in late 2010, seated around a tanoa, the story of ocean canoe voyaging, with a message to save our oceans was discussed. Needless to say, this was enough to get an enthusiastic William on board with the program. Nothing much is sacred to our on board comedian but it is safe to say that William can, and is willing to talk business when it comes to discussing the threats to our oceans.

  • Viliame Raqele

    Soso, Navit, Yasawa. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

  • William Smith

    a.k.a Will Smith. Lovoni, Levuka. Vasu Mokani, Tailevu. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

    Will (Smiggle as he’s sometimes fondly called on the Uto ni Yalo), hails from a family with a very strong and distinguished seafaring tradition. William’s dad captains a New Zealand fishing vessel and his dad’s late dad captained the famous Blue Lagoon based here in Fiji. Then there are others in the family like uncle Jonathan Smith, Captain of the Uto ni Yalo. While there is no pressure on Will to continue the family tradition, the ocean is something he’ll admit is something hard to turn his back on.

  • Samuela Shaw

    Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

  • Iva Nancy Vunikura

    Vione, Gau Lomaiviti. Vasu Rava, Savusavu. Office Assistant at Samba Advertising. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

    The younger of two siblings, this avid sportswoman have represented Fiji in both 7′s and 15′s women’s rugby, and also touch rugby where she has gone on to win a silver medal at the 2009 Mini Games in the Cook Islands. Her exploits doesn’t stop there as Iva has represented the country at powerlifting, winning a gold medal  at the Pacific Games in 2007 in Samoa. The journey aboard the Uto ni Yalo has already gifted Iva with lifelong friendships, further cementing her belief that the journey is indeed a life changing experience and an opportunity to help her discover more about herself. A determined young woman that puts her heart and mind to anything that she comes across, Iva cherishes learning about the ocean and its significance to the people in the Pacific.

  • Voi Fanifau

    Rotuma. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

  • Daniel Ravonoumakidonu

    a.k.a Rabbi – Vatukarasa, Nadroga. Vasu Labeka, Lau. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

    Dan’s seaside village in Nadroga and family home in Lami in Suva means that he has quite literally grown up by the ocean. It is little wonder finding the Uto ni Yalo and secure a spot on it came quickly for Dan. An outrigger canoe paddler for a few years now, Dan is eager to test himself in a different arena. This quick-wit is always a laugh to have around and could probably prove a handful on the rugby field, given his roots with the champion Nadroga district.

  • Seru Saumakidonuoroitoka

    a.k.a Tetu - Raviravi, Kubulau, Bua. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. Like many others in the more remote parts of Fiji, never in his wildest dreams did Seru imagine that he would ever sail on a vessel like the Uto ni Yalo – this fine traditional canoe he had only seen on national television and in the newspapers. A dive master by profession, Seru was working for Green Force, a United Kingdom NGO with projects based in Vanua Levu when the Uto ni Yalo pulled up onto his home island of Kubulau in 2010. For Seru, the chance to crew aboard the Uto ni Yalo was seen as a privilege that was simply too much not to grasp hold of. As a keen member of Kubulau Reef Management Committee, Seru clearly saw an opportunity to learn and experience new things about the environment if he took his chances on the Uto ni Yalo. A week later and after some negotiation with his family, Seru was part of a wider training group preparing for Te Mana o Te Moana. Seru looks forward to learning as much as possible about the environment and then return to his home village, where he can share all that he has learnt.

  • Lisala Koroitokasi Waqanivere

    Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

  • Unaisi Waqanivere Bulileka

    Nukuni, Ono i Lau. Vutala Na Ua 2010 crew.

    One of six siblings, Una was raised in her village on Ono, the furthest island in the Lau Group. At 12, she relocated to Suva to complete her education, culminating with a Bachelor of Applied Science major in Environmental Studies from the Fiji Institute of Technology in 2009.

    Una has been an environmentalist ever since. After a short stint with the Department of Environment, Una moved on to Conservation International (CI) where she spent 17 months working under the Marine Managed Area Science to Action Project. Her ever-increasing skill-set now include – apart from other things – setting up a marine protected area (MPA). Una is also an avid canoe paddler.

  • Vaitoga F BulilekaFrank Allan Stolz

    a.k.a Paul - Natobuniqio, Vugalei – Vasu Juju, Noa’Tau, Rotuma. Sailor. Vutala Na Ua 2010 crew.

    Paul has worked in the water sports tourism industry mostly in the Mamanuca group of islands in Nadi. During this time Paul developed his unique style of singing and playing the guitar, whilst learning other skills such as diving and fire dancing. Always keen to makes friends and meet new people, Paul keeps close tabs to where the action is.

  • Lausie Frank Allan Stolzni Seasea

    a.k.a Frank. Baqata, Suvusavu, Vanua Levu. Vasu Matei, Taveuni. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

    Frank has been one of the boys for his entire life, growing up with fellow crew members Steven, Sam, William, Billyboy and a few others. Living in close proximity to the ocean’s edge meant that much of the boys formative years revolved around sea activities. As a fairly new crew aboard the Uto ni Yalo, Frank is keen to challenge himself in a way his forefathers would have done many generations ago. The avid outrigger canoe paddler, now turned sailor longs to reconcile a Fijian identity he believes is incomplete without traditional sailing and navigation knowledge.

  • Rupeni Seasea

    Namuka I Lau, Chef. Vutala Na Ua 2010 cook.

    If one ever happens to visit the Copra Shed (Restaurant) in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, do ask for chef Rupeni, who recently took up a position there and had his young family relocated as well. This new development means that Rupeni will miss Te Mana o Te Moana 2011, and that we will miss him too. Its hard to tell what our former chef is thinking or feeling, for he still wears a broad smile. Now, its just been phone calls to find out about the crew. Rupeni has represented Fiji as a triathlete and not unlike many others in the FIVS, is a paddling enthusiast.

  • Kelera Lomaloma Mataika

    a.k.a Loma Mataika. Nairai, Lomaiviti. Architectural design manager. Vutala Na Ua 2010 crew. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

  • Salome TabuataleiLedua

    Bua, Vanua Levu – Vasu Burerua, Sawakasa, Tailevu. Trainer & University student. Vatala Na Ua 2010 crew.

    Super mom Salome holds the South Pacific Games women’s 800 meters record and is a multiple medalist who has completed in numerous international athletic events spanning an illustrious career over 30 years. In the last few years, Salome has taken up Outrigger paddling as a sport and have since represented her country in this new found challenge.

  • Setareki Leduathy Tuiwainunu

    a.k.a Snoopy – Naividaniu, Vulalga, Lau. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew. Setareki leads a new breed of young sailors trying to recapture the lost art of celestial navigation in Fiji. This young man was brought up sailing a smaller and more nibble outrigger canoe called a Camakau – a vessel used mainly for sailing within a  lagoon. On the much larger Uto ni Yalo with its equal sized hulls, Setareki is like a kid in a candy shop. Already he has displayed a very confident and intuitive style which is a pleasure to watch. Setareki is happy to be part of a project that can help us care for our oceans. He hopes that one day he can work on a super yacht and sail into the horizon knowing that the ocean below is alive and healthy.

  • Timothy Tuiwainunumed Hussein

    a.k.a Jim Kelly Jnr. Kiobo, Kubulau, Bua. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

    JIm was literally plucked from his village when the Uto ni Yalo visited his island late last year. Earlier that day Jona had successfully hunted a wild pig with his set of loyal dogs (something he and his friends would be asked to carry on such an occasion when extra meat was required) so that the crew could all be fed. Since then Jona has not looked back. Once invited, Jona eagerly hopped onto the canoe not unlike a pilot fish latching onto a shark, in the crystal waters of Bua.

  • Mohammed HusseinRufi

    a.k.a Sunny – Indo-Fijian. Vasu Totoya, Lau. Fisherman. Vutala Na Ua 2010 crew. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

    One day, a Canadian trawler came by and an innocent young man of just 17yrs got snapped up as part of a crew of four, to go fish for Albacore (long fin) tuna in the Northern and Southern Pacific Ocean. This man was none other than our own Sunny, who on that maiden trip, spend two years at sea before seeing his family again. On the high seas, Sunny has seen it all – the rape and pillage of fishing stocks by large purse seiner fishing fleets; the indiscriminate harvesting by foreign fishing vessels; the decrease in catches in just the six years he has been a fisherman. There is hope he says, but only if we all do something now. As Sunny sails aboard the Unto ni Yalo he hopes to carry the message of our fast depleting marine resources. Being the first Indo-Fijian crew on the Uto ni Yalo, Sunny hopes that other Indo-Fijians might take up the same challenge.

  • Cliff Rufi

    Namo, Tikopia. Te Mana o Te Moana 2011 crew.

    Cliff comes from the island of Tikopia in the Solomon islands, a Polynesian island outpost that is located closer to Rotuma than it is to Honiara. The reigning Solomon triathlon national champion, Cliff was introduced to the Uto ni Yalo project through Bob Gillet, a former triathlete himself and a distinguished expert on fishery and conservation who has been working and living in Fiji for the last twenty odd years. Since 2009, Cliff had has the opportunity to sail on board the Uto ni Yalo doing inter-island trips within the Fiji group. He is now really for the high seas and will crew aboard the Hine Moana.