The Tragic voyage of the Tuaikaepau is a story about the last voyage of this remarkable ship to New Zealand. Unfortunately, the ship never made it to it's destination. It struck the Minerva Reef and almost all but seven of the crews survived. Finefeuiaki, a survivor from this tragedy lived to tell this remarkable story. I am very fortunate to be involved in getting this story written for others to read.
Fine and I (while teaching at Tonga College 1987)talked about his version of what happened to the Tuaikaepau's tragic voyage and he assured me that his account of the voyage is in fact very precise. He reckoned that the book titled "Minerva Reef" by Olaf Ruben should have included(an account like this) an account by each of the survivors in honor of each persons heroic effort and endurance during the Minerva Reef ordeal.
Fine would have dearly appreciated having his story printed in a chapter in Minerva Reef written by Olaf. Fine assured me that although the event of the Minerva tragedy happened in 1962, his recollection of the event is still vivid in his own mind - he could remember just about everything.
Finefeuiaki was born in Fakakakai, a village in the Ha'ano Island in the Ha'apai Group. He is one of four children raised by his mother, Mele Tulanga and father, Finau Filimoe'ulie. Finau Filimo'ulie was named after his great grandfather, Finau Filimoe'ulie; the brother of Siaosi Tupou I; the first King of Tonga(latest line of kingship) from whom the current monarchy is decended from.
Fine has two brothers and only one sister. The sister's name is Lavinia Pulimaipau Hafoka who is the translator's mother.
A lot of thanks to Barbara Cook of Vancouver, Canada for her persistence in persuading me to translate Fine's story and making sure that the story is put together . She has published a version of this story and is available from The Friendly Islands Bookshop, Nuku'alofa,Tonga. I would also like to personally thank Finefeuiaki for the painstaking task of writing this story in Tongan before handing it over to me to be translated. Many thanks also to my wife, Sandra Margaret Hafoka for the continual support and allowing me to spend a lot of time in the translation phase of this magnificent story and helping out with the typing (using an old typewriter before I got my computer).