Our story

Hi, Hey, Kia Ora,
Halo and G’day Mate 

We’re Rob and Kerri Price.


When Cyclone Pam ripped through Vanuatu in 2015, our daughter Courtney was volunteering on the island of Pentecost. The community where she was living was completely devastated and for 8 days she was unaccounted for. Once we finally got a call, I headed over to help with the clean-up and spent 2 weeks working among the cyclone-hit communities. As a family we had been involved with short-term mission and volunteer projects all over the world, but while working in Vanuatu I felt an overwhelming call to “sit and stay”. At that moment, I knew we were going to be involved with Vanuatu for the long term.  

Over the next few years we made countless trips backwards and forwards to Vanuatu and we started thinking, planning and praying about how we could base ourselves there more permanently. We rationalised, we agonised, we strategised, and then we realised…this was a chance for passion and purpose to meet. Buying a boat and living a missionary life was not a logical decision, but it was something that we felt called to do – not for the lifestyle, but for the difference we could make in people’s lives.

So after many months of searching, we finally took ownership of our Freebird 50 Catamaran on March 9, 2018. Her name at the hand-over was Koncerto, but given that neither Rob nor I are particularly musical we wanted to re-name her something more relevant. We discussed boat names for months before we settled on Hapai.

Not only is Hapai a nod to our New Zealand roots, it beautifully articulates what we hope to achieve through our cruising journey. Hapai is a Te Reo Maori word that means ‘to support, to shoulder and to raise up’. It also means ‘to begin a journey’, which is very much what we are doing.

This blog is a record of our journey. We’ll post about both the boat side and the mission side of our adventure. I can’t promise that we’ll post as often as we should, or that all the posts will make sense, but we hope that by sharing our adventure you will feel encouraged and supported in your own journey. After all, that’s what Hapai is all about. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are you from?

We call Tauranga, New Zealand, home.
I was born in Auckland, but raised in Tauranga, and apart from a small stint away in my 20’s, it’s where I have always lived. Rob was born in Brisbane, Australia, but he’s been living in New Zealand for most of his adult life. When the All Blacks play the Wallabies he wears black, with a yellow scarf tucked underneath just in case.

Where are you right now?

We are currently tied up at Yachting World Marina in Port Vila, Vanuatu. We plan to be here for a couple more weeks, before heading out to a mooring in the harbour. I (Kerri) am currently teaching Year 5 and 6 at a small community school in Ohlen Freshwind. Rob is busy doing boat maintenance after a pretty rough crossing from New Zealand. 

What kind of boat do you have?

We have 1993 Freebird 50, which is a 50ft (15.3m) catamaran built in the UK. As best as we can work out she is one of only eight Freebird 50s ever built. Apparently, the moulds were destroyed in a fire not long after production began. You can read more about our search for the perfect boat by clicking here.

How much sailing experience do you have?

Of the two of us, Rob is definitely the sailor. He’s been in and around boats since he was a teenager and live aboard cruising has always been on his bucket list. He’s owned all sorts of boats (from fishing tinnies to racing trimarans) and he’ll take (or make) any excuse to get out on the water. He’s helped bring friend’s boats home from Australia, he’s had sailing holidays in the Med, and he is a long-serving Coastguard volunteer. He loves the friendly rivalry of Yacht Club racing and is happy to crew on any boat, any time, anywhere.

 I, on the other hand, was a bit of a land lubber. Before meeting Rob I had only been on a boat twice in my life. Both times I had been horribly sea sick before even leaving the marina. Over the last decade I’ve become more comfortable around boats, but I still get sea sick from time to time and I’m far from a competent sailor. When people ask me why I’m doing this when I don’t really like boats, I tell them to pull up a chair. It’s quite a story!

How can you afford to throw in your jobs and go sailing?

The short answer is we can’t. We’re not closet billionaires and we don’t have a massive passive income from a diamond-studded investment portfolio. We just decided that we’d rather live a life of purpose, than one of regret.

We have owned various businesses over the last 20+ years, so we’re used to making an income in weird and wonderful ways. We have a little bit of money put aside to get started and then we’re pretty sure things will show up as we go along. If you would like to support any of the volunteer projects we are involved with, you can find donation details here.

How long do you plan on cruising for?

We seriously have no idea. We will continue our work in Vanuatu until we feel it is time to move on. Then who knows what will happen?