French Polynesia has filed an application to make the Marquesas Islands a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Speaking in Paris, the culture minister Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu said the bid is the most complicated ever submitted as it involves both the natural and cultural heritage of the archipelago.
The application is formally being filed by France as the administrative power and also reflects the wish of President Emmanuel Macron to project the country’s diversity.
The listing was first suggested in 1993 by officials in the Marquesas, with Maamaatuaiahutapu working on the bid for the past eight years.
The World Heritage Committee has 18 months to examine the dossier.
In 2017, Taputapuatea marae on Raiatea became French Polynesia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site.
French Polynesia also wants the ‘ori tahiti’ traditional dance to be made part of UNESCO’s world heritage but Paris is yet to endorse the project.
The Marquesas are located 1500km north-east of Tahiti and spread out over 12 islands, of which only six are inhabited.
There are about 9,000 people living on the islands.
The Marquesas are one of the five archipelagos of French Polynesia and are made up of six inhabited islands known for their lush vegetation, steep cliffs, and exceptional seabed.
Dances, sculpture and tattoos remain strong identity markers of Te Henua Enata (the land of men, in the Marquesan language), recognizable throughout the Polynesian triangle, as far as Hawaii in the north, New Zealand in the southwest. and Easter Island to the east.
Emmanuel Macron had been the first French president to go to the Marquesas in July 2021, in particular to support this candidacy for UNESCO World Heritage. “Our treasure is this nature and this culture, so I will fight alongside you so that we can classify the Marquesas as Unesco,” he declared at the time.