Porirua man fulfils promise to late grandmother with va’a launch

December 2, 2022

After five long years, John Misky’s promise to his grandmother has been fulfilled in the form of a rare Samoan sailing va’a.

It was a commitment he made in 2003 to help fundraise for the Tokelauan Bible translation.

Twenty years later his grandmother is gone, but the canoe will now finally launch from Porirua harbour on Saturday morning.

"I can’t express how overwhelmed I am to see it finished and have it finally launch," he said.

“It’s been a lot of work by a lot of people. It means a lot for the community a lot for my family and lots to the translation work.”

It’s been a labour of love for John, who has lost close family and community along the way, including his dad.

He says while it’s the promise that’s kept him going, it’s now about more than that.

“This is about our tamariki. This is about our culture coming alive, so they can not only see it in books but up close.”

As a sailor and carpenter, John has embedded this story telling into the canoe itself.

It was close to Matariki when the first board was laid, so now the constellation has been represented on the hull.

Stars on the mast and a colourful turtle have come to represent those who have passed on.

This vibrant storytelling is part of John’s bid to honour the community who partnered with him to make it happen.

The launch will take place around 9am on Saturday at the Porirua Rowing Club. The community is welcome, and there will be also be a livestream available here.