Mateata Ruta, a Polynesian « modern Ancestor ».
« I grew up in the sea, i’ve learned how to drive a boat since very young age. The Ocean called me! »
This strong-willed young woman is the epitome of many fundamental aspects of our Polynesian culture. Not only she has a passion for seafaring but she is also very attached to her island Moorea and all its ecosystems. Travelling the world, she made a point to bear the true colors of Polynesian Identity in any conditions: a pacific attitude and kind nature, being deeply joyful and in the sharing.
Mateata was raised in a family atmosphere, for all the district of Tiahura belonged to the PATER family. Her best memories were always connected to the sea, from fishing lessons with her grandparents, swimming for the first time or going on kayak or « va’a » (canoe) with all the cousins. Motu Fareone and Motu Tiahura were Mateata’s and her cousins’ favorite playground. Her grand-mother Denise Pater, when she was alive, and her grand-father Billie Ruta are greatly respected in their family and on the community scale.
« My grand-parents were key persons in our life, they taught me and my cousins different ways of fishing, they showed us how to cook the traditional « ma’a tahiti » (tahitian meal) in the « ahi ma’a » (underground oven), they taught us how to make traditional herbal remedies, how to use and live off what your environment/Nature gives you. They taught us to love and respect Nature, to learn from it, this relationship characterizes who we, Polynesian, truly are, as we are one with Nature. »
Being in tune with Mother-Nature was a fundamental value for this great family. This child of Moorea was well-grounded in her natural and cultural identity. In fact her grand-father pioneered touristic activities over Moorea out of love in sharing the wonders of his island. Mateata’s father kept on the good reputation leading several tours on the lagoon and offering a tahitian food experience on their motu.
« My family is well-known in the Tourism industry, my father Moïse Ruta is the President of Tourism Committee of Moorea, I was raised in this ambiance of being proud of who we are, privileged to live in such a beautiful environment and so happy to share it with other people. »
Our young and fearless vahine, left her paradise to study business in France and Australia. She finally returned home with her degree in the pocket and ready to do what she has been trained for i.e. take over the family business on Moorea. Yet what was once a teenager reverie bounced back and initiated her career of officer on private Yachts. After she got her Master 500 Certificate, she started working, in Tahiti, as day worker and was soon hired as deckhand on 161-feet-long-yacht: Legacy. Her first trip was in the bay of Opunohu where it all began with the Octopus and we can’t help making a connection with Te Fe’e Tumu-Ra’i-i-Te-Fenua (the legend of Tumu-Ra’i-i-te-Fenua).
« One day, in my young days, in Opunohu Bay, I saw the Octopus, a 414-foot megayacht built for Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and I told my dad that if someone could drive a boat like that then I, myself, was capable, as well. He replied that I was dreaming, and I could never dream of standing on such boat because it’s only a privilege of the rich people. But ever since becoming a captain and setting foot on a yacht have remained at the back of my mind. »
Mateata travelled the South Pacific Ocean through and through, then visited the Mediterranean Sea working for the Emir of Qatar. She has never felt as strongly struck by beauty as before the Polynesian sceneries, especially Moorea. Seafaring was one of the best chapter of her life but she firmly believed she would go back to her roots once she would bear a child.
« When we were kids, my grand-mother would take us, all the grand-children, on her lands up on the mountain where the view is 180° . And she would say: Look here, all this is my land, i give it to you with all my heart, this is the most precious gift you could ask for, I am telling you, you will never sell this land, it is priceless! if i see you do that i would raise from my tomb and come for you! Here are your roots, your ancestors owned this land, you will plant your children’s placenta, entrusting them to the land which will take care of them, feed them, they could travel as far as they want they’ll know where they come from. »
Her grand-mother teachings and words resonated in her heart and soul when her son Manatoa was born. She has revived all the rituals she experienced as a child with her grand-parents and pass them on to the next generation. She invites us to remain positive and kind, to speak with our heart, to thank our « tupuna » and « fenua » everyday and to show proudly how beautiful we are, being a Polynesian at core.
This inspiring woman has now settled down, with her family, on Moorea and runs two thriving businesses: Moorea Mahana Yacht Services and Moorea Mahana Tours. We hope to meet her on one of her tours.