The Matua was the famous Twin Screw Motor Vessel that in her time connected the Pacific.
Auckland is known as the home of a large population of Pacific Islanders and is referred to by many as the Kava Bowl of the Pacific because of how many islanders gather around it. Different generations of Pacific people reside in Auckland and make up the fabric of this city. We know the common and modern stories of families hopping on flights in recent years to start their lives in Aotearoa, but what about those who came before the journeys were only a few hours long?
This is where the stories of the Matua come in. The vessel carried many first-generation Pasifika families to New Zealand between 1935 to 1970. The vessel catered for a large number of deck passengers to enable Pacific Islanders to move between the islands. Throughout her service, Matua was a popular vessel and was reputed to be a favourite of Her Majesty Queen Salote Tupou of Tonga. The word "Matua" is common to most Polynesian languages and usually means "kinship." In New Zealand and around the Islands the vessel was popularly referred to as "The Banana Boat."
Many older generations of Pacific Islanders have their own personal stories of traveling to Aotearoa on the Matua. Stories of great importance in order to understand Pacific history in New Zealand. Luckily for those in Auckland, The Auckland War Memorial Museum has a specific display in their new Tāmaki Herenga Waka: Stories of Auckland gallery on the Matua and her passengers. You get to see a beautiful assortment of stories from different voyages. There is an interactive touchscreen display where you can browse through passengers' stories, trinkets they have kept, and historic photos of those times. You can even listen to first-hand accounts of the voyage.
The stories of the Matua are ones of great importance to Pacific people in Aotearoa and many of our elders hold Matua tales of their own. Elders including the mother of Judge Ida Malosi who traces her families start in Aotearoa back to the Matua. In the series Daughter of Migration, she talks about her journey on the Matua and how it brought her family here.
If you or your families have stories of the Matua we'd love to hear them!