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All-female crew to set sail to Tonga

All-female crew to set sail to Tonga

  • 08 Jul 2024
Hinemoa II story

An all-female Pacific-crewed research vessel is sailing from Aotearoa, destined for Tonga. 

The Hinemoana II is sailing from the Bay of Plenty to Tongatapu in July, conducting research on whale populations during its voyage. The crew of wāhine will be integrating traditional knowledge into their research practices, blending science and cultural wisdom to help advance understanding of our marine environments. 

Aunofo Havea, who is co-leading the voyage, says this unique voyage is “a chance to weave together ancestral wisdom with scientific research, to ensure the health of our oceans and the whales that grace them”. 

Partnering with Aunofo to lead the voyage is co-captain Fealofani Bruun, who is the first Sāmoan woman ever to attain a yacht master qualification. 

Fealofani says the expedition is “groundbreaking on multiple levels”. 

“We are not only an all-female Pacific crew, but we are also forging a path for future generations of ocean guardians by combining indigenous knowledge with modern science to protect our whales. I am humbled to be a part of this historic voyage.”

The data collected during this voyage will also be used to advocate for more extensive protection of whales. A cause supported by Māori Kīngi Tūheitia, their aim is to advocate for more marine protection areas to protect whales during their migration. 

The Hinemoana II will depart in mid-July, and is expected to reach Tonga by July 20.

Photo: Tongan Voyaging Society.  Hinemoana II co-captains: Fealofani Bruun and Aunofo Havea.