Raising Climate Justice with Kava Ceremony

Last month a Pasifika community group hosted a kava ceremony raising the flag on climate change following New Zealand’s America’s Cup victory. The Pacific Cooperation Foundation collaborated with other Pacific groups to host the dawn ceremony at the Maritime Museum in Auckland.

Kava o Aotearoa custodian Pakilau Manase Lua says the event serves to raise awareness about climate justice through a connected Pacific ancestral way using kava, the vaka, sailing and voyaging.

Lua said they scheduled the event to coincide with the America’s Cup race serving as a reminder that this significant sporting event is taking place on the Pacific Ocean. “Just to remind Aotearoa that they’re racing on our Moana and that Moana is imperilled by climate change and the fact that Tuvalu, one of the most at risk countries from climate change in terms of the rising sea water and the Tuvalu overstayers should be treated as climate change refugees.”

Lua said Kava O Aotearoa ceremonies have been running for the last three years, targeting significant events to raise awareness and amplify the voices of Māori and Pacific communities on particular issues.

“The first time we ran it was in 2019 and that was to stand in solidarity for our Muslim brothers and sisters who were slain in Christchurch. We also held one last year for all our the whānau impacted by Covid-19 at the Auckland Museum when they launched the new Te Ao Mārama space, which has the largest kava bowl in the world,” said Lua.

There was twenty people participating aboard Haunui waka while another fifty participated on the balcony overlooking Haunui.

PCF board member Rachel Petero said they are honoured to be partnering in this important event as a platform for highlighting the effects of climate change in the Pacific.

“We acknowledge Kava O Aotearoa ceremony, which is the only Pacific ceremony that is inclusive of Māori and Pacific representation, positions women in key roles in the ceremony, and we come together to celebrate Pacific cultures and protocols safely in Aotearoa,” she said.

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