A promise kept: ‘I just can’t do it on my own’
An unkept promise is keeping a Porirua man awake at night.
In 2003, John Misky promised his grandmother he would build a Samoan canoe and, after more than a decade, time is running out for the project.
‘‘I promised her I would sail from Auckland to Wellington to raise money for the Tokelauan bible translation project,’’ he said.
‘‘When she passed away I forgot about it for a long time but now I need to do it, I have to get the monkey off my back.
‘‘I can’t sleep at night because my promise keeps me awake.’’
Misky said he had made many attempts over the years to keep his promise but the time was now right.
‘‘At the time I promised my grandma I had no idea, but now I know how to build a canoe - I’m ready.
‘‘I have vowed to have it ready by November for the Strong Pacific Families parade, but I can’t do it by myself, I need the village to help.’’
His mission to build a replica traditional Samoan canoe might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.
In 2009 he joined the Polynesian Voyaging Society, which builds their own canoes, and completed a mammoth double- hull canoe adventure from Auckland to Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa, San Francisco and Mexico.
‘‘When you’re out in a canoe on the sea you are very aware of your tiny place in the world.’’
It was a much smaller, single hull canoe, Misky planned to build in his Porirua driveway.
‘‘I just need some scaffolding to make a shelter around the base.’’
He hoped Porirua people would join in and help build the vessel - not just for a spare hand but because of the traditional background.
‘‘It was always a community effort building a canoe. From the children who gather the coconut husk to the men who used it to make rope.’’
‘‘I welcome anyone who wants to come and work or talk - I have oceans of stories.’’
Misky said to complete the project would bring closure to the promise he made so many years ago.
‘‘I can see her smiling, just like she smiled when I told her I’d do it.’’
Anyone interested in helping John build the canoe can contact him on 021 044 6871.
John Misky aboard a traditional waka or canoe. The Porirua man plans to build his own canoe to pay tribute to his grandmother.