Hokule’a Completes Journey to Tahiti

Hawaii’s famous Hokule’a traditional double hull canoe has completed the first leg of the “Kealaikahiki Voyage” from Hawaii to Tahiti.

Kealaikahiki, which means ‘The path to Tahiti’ is the first leg of a worldwide voyage by the Hokule’a and its sister vessel Hikianalia.

Hokule’a’s first female captain Lehua Kamalu says the historic Kealaikahiki route coincides with a perfect ocean pattern and weather conditions.

“Somehow the geography, the weather, the stars, they perfectly align right during the season, right in this space, from all the way up in 90 and half north to 80 and half south into Tahiti, everything comes together to give you a voyage like this on one of this canoes, you know they are very unique, they sail in a specific way.”

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Hokule’a. Photo from http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com

Kamalu says next year the Hokule’a and Hikianalia will take on a more challenging voyage, a full circumnavigation of the Pacific.

“We are getting ready for another big voyage coming up next year called Moananuiakea, which is celebrating this whole ocean space we are in Pacific, and I feel after this part of the journey, we still have one journey to get back home. Everyone is feeling positive, sort of revitalized, feeling like were right back out there again.”

Moananuiākea Voyage:  Over the next five years, the organization will plot a course for the future by circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean, covering 41,000 miles, 345 ports, 46 countries and archipelagoes, 100 indigenous territories, starting first in our home islands of Hawaii. The goal is to inspire, educate and elevate a new generation of 10 million Navigators by the end of the voyage in 2026, young people who can lead the many different kinds of bold voyages our Earth needs now, with the mindset, preparation and courage to face the coming storms, and the resilience to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

Hōkūle’a’s first voyage to Tahiti was in 1976, and when the vessel arrived at the beach in Pape’ete Harbour, over half the island’s population was there, about 17,000 people.

For more information click here.

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Samoan Children’s Book About Independence

Journalist Fuimaono Lumepa Hald wrote an article for the Samoa Observer about how a children’s book about a Samoan grandfather who shared the story of a family siapo (tapa) with his grandchildren and is themed around the 60th independence anniversary will be launched end of this month.

Samoan author Dahlia Malaeulu said the story unfolds to talk of the different elements of the special siapo (tapa) which represent Sāmoa’s challenging journey to independence. The book is one of many to be released under the Mila’s My Aganu‘u Series in New Zealand.

Ms Malaelu said that she was inspired by her own ‘Grandpa storytellers’ such as her father and uncles, who at different times during her learning, told her about the importance of Samoan culture and history. “It was also inspired by my own author visits to schools where I share and talk about different Samoan cultural artefacts including a special siapo (tapa) that I was gifted,” she said.

Ms Malaelu personally believes that the world is in need of more Pacific island stories.

“Besides the world needing more Pasifika stories and history resources for our tamaiti, Grandpa’s Siapo helps to develop readers understanding of Sāmoa’s history with New Zealand while encouraging talanoa around the impact of colonisation, key historical events and Samoan leaders who continually fought for Sāmoa to be led by Samoans.”

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The young author also made reference to the exploits of past Samoan warriors who fought for the Samoan language and culture to survive.

“For us as Samoans, I think Grandpa’s Siapo reminds us that we come from brave warriors and ancestors who continually fought for our Samoan language and culture to survive in the face of adversity as well,” she said. “Grandpa’s Siapo is also quite special because it is the first picture book in the world that tells the story of our Samoan history.

“It was proudly created by an all Pasifika team and received a personal blessing from Fialaui‘afualeafi Tamasese – daughter of Sāmoa’s first Co-Head of State, Tupua Tamasese Mea‘ole and the oldest grandchild of Ta‘isi Olaf Frederick Nelson.”

The author said that Grandpa’s Siapo is for everyone and can be a literacy resource for children, students, teachers, parents and families of all ethnicities.

“There is a misconception that Samoans around the world are aware of our own history, but unfortunately this is not always the case due to the impact of colonization, traditional oral storytelling declining or not being passed on as well as not having any suitable Pasifika resources especially for our children,” she added.

Emphasizing her belief that her book will help many Samoans strengthen their connection to Samoan culture and their cultural identity, she said it is her hope for all the books in her series to help develop the children’s connection to their culture.

“I hope that our Mila’s My Aganu‘u Series is to help develop understanding and connections by having our tamaiti safely learn about who we are as Samoans so they can learn to succeed as themselves, as well as have us all understand the endless potential we have as Pasifika.”

Ms Malaelu said the picture book will be released on 14 May 2022 in New Zealand and will be available from Lagi Routes from the Pacific store for the general public and Wheelers Books for schools and libraries.

“Also access to our stories is key to us at Mila’s Books so in honour of the 60th Anniversary of Samoan Independence this year and our national Samoan language week, our entire Mila’s My Aganu‘u Series including Grandpa’s Siapo, will be made available to the world as a paperback and e-book via Amazon on the 29th of May.”

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Toa Residency Gives Opportunities to Disabled Pasifika

Radio New Zealand recently posted an article about how two New Zealand-based Pasifika artists are leading a new arts initiative called the Toa Residency to increase support for Pasifika disabled people wanting to enter the arts industry.

Musician Pati Umaga and inter-disciplinary artist Pelenakeke Brown said the residency would give the artists an opportunity to collaborate digitally and allow them to have sovereignty over their identity.

Standing up for the rights of others runs in his blood. His grandfather Pau Umaga was a pivotal part of the Mau movement that led Samoa to gain its independence in 1962.

In 2005, Umaga suffered an accident that left him paralysed. However, his activism and musical skills has only spurred him further to advocate for the disability community.

He said the arts allows the community to have control of their narrative. “I’ve been really using music as a way of, I guess, forming our own narratives as disabled artists and disabled musicians,” he said. “For so long other people have taken our stories and used it for themselves and I’m really passionate about us owning our own narratives and through the arts we can do that.”

Umaga hopes the residency will remove barriers for the Pasifika disability community from participating in the arts space.

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Pelenakeke Brown and Pati Umaga Photo: Creative NZ

Hopes that budding artists will take inspiration from others

Inspired by other Pasifika artists while growing up, Pelenakeke Brown’s work combines art, writing, and performance. Her career has been recognised internationally, having spent six years living and performing in New York.

Due to the pandemic Brown is back in New Zealand and is honoured to co-lead the Toa Residency.

She hoped that plenty of Pasifika disabled artists take inspiration from others.

“One way I figured out how to be an artist is that I looked at other artists who I wanted to be like or have careers like them. I would look at the opportunities that had and then kind of followed in their footsteps,” she said.

“There’s a lot of disabled artists making really cool art so I think looking at what other people are doing and trying to connect with them is a really great place to start.”

When it comes to their development, Pati Umaga said the disabled community has had to rely on others within the health and social sector to make decisons on their behalf for far too long and wants that to change. “Give our disabled people the opportunities to lead the change rather than being led,” he said. “For so long we’ve had other people doing things for us, to us, and they try and do it with us, but in the end it’s us leading the change that will actually provide the real point of difference.”

Thriving through arts

Lusi Faiva is an award-winning performing artist, who has won several awards for her outstanding contribution to the arts sector.

She feels that most care providers often overlook the disabled community’s decision-making capabilities.

Faiva said the arts have enabled her to thrive as a leader.

She said the start of her arts journey wasn’t an easy one but today she is a highly respected performer and sits on the Artistic Direction Panel at a leading professional performance company, Touch Compass.

“Since I was young I imagined myself performing on stage. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to have any formal training opportunities because of my physical disability and being non-verbal.

“I think it’s good to get some disability leadership so that would help the company to bring new opportunities for those who want to go into the art sector. I must say that I’m grateful to have a good career as a Pacific professional artist and I am enjoying my new role on the artistic direction panel.”

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Rotuman Language Week 2022

Radio New Zealand Pacific Journalist, Susana Suisuiki, wrote an article about how sustainability of the language and culture will be the main focus of this year’s Rotuman language week.

Listed as one of UNESCO’s endangered languages, the Rotuman community in Aotearoa New Zealand is not taking any chances to see their unique language become extinct in generations to come.

A Fijian-dependency island, Rotuma is located 500 kilometres north of Fiji but has its own distinct culture and language. Linguistics considers Rotuman to be one of the most difficult languages to master as it requires the use of metathesis – re-ordering vowels in a word with the preceding consonant.

Alfie Prasad, a member of the Rotuman-cultural committee ‘HATA Collective’, said that out of the 981 people who identify as Rotuman in Aotearoa, only 20 percent can speak the language. “For the Rotumans, I think there’s about 20 percent of us that still speak the language at different levels of fluency and there’s about 80 percent of Rotumans in New Zealand that don’t speak the language or understand the cultural practices.”

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On top of trying to revive the language, Prasad says many Rotuman members in the country did not register their ethnicity in the last census. “There’s a huge number of Rotumans or part Rotumans that are in New Zealand that don’t register as Rotumans and I think the number if we were to count, would be close to 2000 Rotumans altogether.”

Although the Rotuman population in Aotearoa may be small in numbers, the efforts to promote the language and culture have been monumental.

Last year, New Zealand politician Ingrid Leary delivered a prayer in Parliament entirely in Rotuman – the first time the language was spoken and heard throughout the room.

As the mother of two Rotuman children, Leary said delivering the prayer in Rotuman and advocating for the language serves as a doorway for those that have a desire to reconnect with their culture. “I was mindful that I’m not Rotuman, so I see it as a doorway for somebody that is Rotuman to be able to speak the language in our special Parliamentary House but to have the honour and privilege of doing so for the first time with the prayer, something so spiritual, was so amazing.”

For Ngaire Fuata, a familiar face in the New Zealand music and television scene, reconnecting with her Rotuman heritage came much later on in her life – a decision that led her to produce ‘Salat se Rotuma’ a documentary that captured her very first visit to the island.

Fuata said being a member of the flagship Pacific current affairs show, ‘Tagata Pasifika’ sparked her interest to strengthen her identity. “I was caught up with trying to I guess in some ways assimilate to be a New Zealander, and I think it’s always something that I wanted to explore but in particularly working on Tagata Pasifika – I work with all Pacific people and they know who they are – the Samoans, the Cook Islands, and they’ve got such a strong sense of identity, and I wanted to ensure that I had that too,” she said.

Celebrations for this year’s Rotuman language week will be held online, and the surge of interest and engagement with the culture gives Alfie Prasad a sense of hope that the ‘endangered status’ of the language will be a thing of the past.

He calls on all Rotumans whether they are fluent or not to take up the readily available language resources. “It’s never too late to learn the language, it’s never too late to reclaim this rich heritage that is being passed down to us.”

Rotuman language week concludes on Saturday 14 May.

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A Humbling Samoan Exhibition at Venice Biennale

Radio New Zealand journalist, Susana Suisuiki, wrote a very interesting article about how the alluring images and real-life stories of Sāmoa’s Fa’afafine community has recently been described as ‘powerful’ at the 59th Venice Biennale, one of the most prestigious art and cultural exhibitions in the world.

Paradise Camp by Sāmoan-Japanese artist Yuki Kihara explores the idea of a ‘Fa’afafine utopia’, seen through a series of photographs that ‘upcycles’ selected paintings by Paul Gauguin.

Kihara, who is the first Pasifika and Fa’afafine artist to represent Aotearoa New Zealand at the art exhibition, said Paradise Camp is about showcasing indigenous world views that touch on social, historical and environmental subjects.

Fa’afafine translates to ‘in the manner of a woman’ and is used to describe a person who at birth is assigned as male, but expresses their gender in a feminine way.

Kihara said that underneath the facade and beautiful imagery of ‘paradise’, lies personal experiences of Sāmoa’s fa’afafine community.

The response to Paradise Camp in Venice, particularly members of the LGBTQI+ community has been humbling for the artist.

Feeling ‘validated’ by exhibition

“Everybody wants to know where the Pacific is,” Kihara said.

“It’s so funny because I had people from all walks of life but I think in particular you know, the transgender community and the gender non-binary community you know have come up to me and say, ‘You know Yuki, I’ve never heard of Sāmoa before but for the fact that you’ve brought the fa’afafine community here in your exhibition makes me feel very validated’.”

Shot on several locations around Sāmoa, the models featured in each of the photographs are entirely from the country’s queer community – each identifying either as fa’afafine, or fa’atama (in the manner of a man).

Widely accepted in Sāmoan society, fa’afafines contribute significantly to their families, churches and cultural obligations.

However, despite their service and reverence of Fa’a Sāmoa (the Sāmoan way), many still face discrimination and are sometimes frowned upon by their conservative peers.

The President of the Sāmoa Fa’afafine Association (SFA), Alex Su’a said being involved in the production of Paradise Camp made her reflect on life for Pacific women prior to the arrival of Christian missionaries.

“The fact that missionaries and Christianity had brainwashed our community in saying ‘no, women are supposed to be reserved, you’re supposed to cover yourselves up’ – and we’ve lost that, so for fa’afafine to come in and relive that empowerment – this is probably how beautiful our women were, and beautiful in such a sense that missionaries as well as Paul Gauguin who took advantage of that by painting them.”

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A native of Sāmoa, Yuki Kihara is an interdisciplinary artist of Japanese and Sāmoan descent. Photo: Creative New Zealand

Art exhibition a source of empowerment for all Pasifika women

Su’a said she hopes the art exhibition is a source of empowerment for all Pasifika women, no matter their orientation.

“That’s the empowering factor for me, is the fact that only the fa’afafine can pull off something like reliving the natural beautiful Pasifika women that we had before the earliest time the missionaries or a European contact came in touch with our Pacific people.”

Paradise Camp is shaking up art history, particularly the controversial legacy of Gauguin who produced a lot of his well-known artwork while living in Tahiti.

Curator Natalie King said since its opening, Paradise Camp has drawn in thousands of people and despite the majority of them not knowing where Sāmoa is, the art has a universal appeal.

“We’re all affected by climate change, many communities are affected by discrimination but I think it’s the way Yuki tells her stories that have resonated and have had, I guess, a universal appeal so her stories really uncover and kind of reverse the Western art history’s traditions.”

Kihara’s success has encouraged other aspiring Pasifika artists.

Caren Rangi, the Chair of the Arts Council at Creative NZ, said having a Pasifika presence at Venice Biennale would hopefully shift the perception among Pasifika parents who overlook the arts and culture industry.

“If you really think about it, arts and culture plays a huge factor in the wellbeing of individuals, of families, of communities of representing the identity of people, the identity of place and so it actually makes a huge contribution to the health and wellbeing of people generally and I think that is something that people do value.”

However audiences interpret Paradise Camp, Kihara said that her latest work serves as a lesson for all to be true to themselves.

“The crux of Paradise Camp is really about being honest to yourself, and living an authentic life. There are forces out there in the world that constantly try to conform you into a certain way of being and I feel that Paradise Camp offers this safe space for you just to be yourself.”

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Tongan Princess Launches Her First Book

Matangi Tonga Online posted an article about how Tonga’s High Commissioner to Australia, Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka Tuku‘aho, launched her first book at a special event held at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Canberra on 14 April.

In a statement the High Commission of Tonga in Canberra said the book is a cultural manual for Tongans, titled: Ko e Ngafa ‘o e Fefine Pea Mo e Tangata Tonga or The Essence of the Tongan Woman and Man: Duties and Responsibilities.

Written in the Tongan language and translated into English, the book shares insights from the Tongan Royal family, as custodians of Tongan traditions.

The book is a Tongan cultural manual to aid, guide and instruct how to better effectuate duties and responsibilities as a Tongan woman and man to the family and nation. This is the essence of the Tongan woman and man,” stated the High Commission.

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HRH Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka Tuku’aho launches her first book at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, NSW, Australia. 14 April 2022. Photo: High Commission of Tonga.

The Princess is the daughter of King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau’u. Her brother, Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala, the guest of honour at the launch event, was presented with a signed book.

The program started with performances of songs and dance presented by the Princess’s Ngafa Theater Production, and the Princess read her book’s foreword to the audience. Guests included Louise Waterhouse, Tonga’s Honorary Consul-General and local Liverpool Council members.

The book was published by Twinnies Publishing, a new imprint registered in Greenacre, NSW, Australia, by Ana Kautoga, who started by publishing children’s books for her Tongan family.

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Using Children’s Books to Learn CHamoru (Guam)

Give them every chance to read and speak the beautiful language of CHamoru with stories that not only incorporate CHamoru words, but also reflect cultural values and important stories. With these tools, they’ll be learning words and sentences they can use easily in daily life through fun, compelling stories.

Gerård Aflågue Collection

This collection is quite vast, so we’re only highlighting a few titles. Gerard Aflague’s books are perfect for young and beginner CHamoru learners hoping to grasp foundational vocabulary like colors, shapes, numbers, and feelings. You can find Aflague’s books at Bestseller at Guam Premier Outlets, or online at gerardaflaguecollection.com.

“Opposites in Chamorro” helps kids grasp descriptive words like “mahlos” and “kalaton,” or “smooth” and “rough,” by setting up opposite words on partnered pages.

The book includes English translations and clear photographs of real life items to further illustrate the meaning of the words.

“Teach Me My Feelings In Chamorro,” by Gerard and Mary Aflague, includes a wide range of emotions for kids to learn in CHamoru.

Feelings range from straightforward, like “tristi,” or “sad,” to more nuanced, like “chathinasso,” or “stressed.”

Each emotion is paired with an illustrated child expressing the emotion, as well as contextual sentences like “Hafa sinientete-mu?” or “How are you feeling?” to help kids use their newly learned words in full sentences.

UOG Press: Taiguini Books

This series of books from UOG Press are written entirely in CHamoru with beautiful illustrations for kids to make connections with CHamoru words.

Sentences are fully translated to English in a section at the back of the book, making it easy for families at all levels of fluency to understand the story. These books are available at Bestseller at Guam Premier Outlets or online at uogpress.com.

“Si Pedro yan i Hilét Oru na Ko’ko’” (“Pedro and the Golden Ko’ko’”), written and illustrated by local author Lance J. Osborn, follows a determined boy named Pedro as he chases after the elusive Golden Ko’ko throughout southern Guam. Osborn’s plucky illustrations welcome kids alongside Pedro on his quest.

“Ma Guaiya Yu’, si Nåna yan si Tåta” (“Grandma and Grandpa Love Me”) by Simone and Dana Bollinger is told from the perspective of children spending time with their grandparents and reflecting on the ways they know their grandparents love them.

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This book celebrates CHamoru culture and language, including references in the story to things like grating coconut and talking walks in the jungle.

“Il Målinga Na Patgon” (“The Lost Child”) by Rufina Fejeran Mendiola tells the story of Bella, who feels forgotten among her busy family and turns to her garden for solace.

Beautiful illustrations from Joseph Flores Sablan support this story as it highlights the CHamoru values of family and working together.

“Guaiyayon na Trongkon Mansanita” (“The Loveable Mansanita Tree”) by Dolores Indalecio Camacho shares the story of three sisters in 1950s Guam as they make memories together surrounded by the beautiful nature of the island, and illustrations by Andrea Nicole Grajek highlight how much fun kids can find when they get outdoors.

In addition to English translations of the CHamoru text, the last few pages of the book include scientific information about the origins of the tree, a history of the tree on Guam and its meaning in CHamoru culture.

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Tongan Songwriter Inspires at World Ocean Conference

A big THANKS to RNZ Pacific’s manager Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor, who covered the World Ocean Conference that took place in Palau this past week- we’ll wrap up the extraordinary week with the inspiration of Tongan storyteller and songwriter, Mia Kami, who said, “If we fail to protect our oceans, we are failing to preserve our people, our culture, our identity.”

The 7th Our Ocean conference brought together scientists, civil society groups, and representatives from both the private sector and world governments, including the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry.

Based in Suva, Fiji, Kami studied Law and Politics at the University of the South Pacific. However, her passion lies in raising awareness about gender equality, indigenous sovereignty, and climate change in the Pacific region. She expresses these passions through songwriting and music. Kami believes that art is the most powerful form of storytelling and one that connects Pacific and Indigenous people to their ancestors and descendants.

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Mia Kami, speaking at the Our Ocean conference in Palau. Photo by the US State Department.

She spoke to the conference assembly about the necessity to protect the ocean from climate change; that failing to protect the ocean is failing to protect the future. As well as her heartfelt words Kami performed her song “Rooted” live, accompanied by a music video that featured people from around the Pacific Region, in order to put a face to those who are most affected by climate change.

Kami said of her performance:

“It was an honour for me, knowing what I was able to put out on stage was it came across well enough for people to stop and have conversations….

When we were doing the video itself, one of the biggest goals for me was that I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t Polycentric or that it wasn’t Melanesian-centric because realistically, a lot of the representation that we see for the Pacific, centres around Polynesia and Melanesia as well, and so I thought it was important that we were able to recognize that Micronesia is there too.

I’m glad that that came through because that was part of the vision. I wanted to show that we are not this separation of our subregions, all of us exist in this space in this ocean and we are all connected because of the ocean.”

The performance received a standing ovation from the audience, including Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry.

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Tongan PM says, “We Our the Ocean”

RNZ Pacific’s manager Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor continues to cover the Our Ocean Conference in Palau…

Tonga’s Prime Minister has told the Our Ocean Conference in Palau that island communities encounter several multifaceted ocean challenges.

Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni told 500 delegates from more that 80 nations “that we are small island communities with small economies and capacities and managing our ocean alone.”

The prime minister quoted renowned Pacific academic and ocean champion, the late Epeli Hauʻofa:

‘Oceania is vast, Oceania is expanding, Oceania is hospitable and generous, Oceania is humanity rising from the depths of brine and regions of fire deeper still, Oceania is us.’

“We are the Pacific ocean, it is the largest and deepest ocean base on earth. So for small island and large ocean states, it is critical to understand the inter-connectivity between land and oceans for sustainable development.

From the highlands to the high seas where the connection between people, planet, and profit systems underpin security and livelihoods. And therefore sustainable development requires a paradigm shift from sectorial to eco-system based systems,” Sovaleni said.

“As island communities we encounter several ocean challenges which are multi-faced. We are small island communities with small economies and capacities to manage our ocean alone.

We are vulnerable to natural hazards and disasters such as extreme weather events, climate change, volcanic eruptions, and tsunami which was experienced in Tonga on January 15, this year,” he said.

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Photo from RNZ Pacific

He said can not control transboundary impacts of marine bio-diversity… beyond our jurisdictions, these include pollution, illegal unregulated unreported fishing, and other climate change impacts.

“The multifaced nature of these challenges encountered by our island communities is one that we cannot address alone and what we need is the support of the region and the world

This conference is one of the many solutions to our multifaceted ocean challenges, like the all encompassing sustainable development goals, the proposed areas of actions [conference] are interlinked in their common intent, yet different to their approaches,” he said.

The prime minister said we welcome these areas of action as they highlight the nexus between ocean and climate, critical ocean base climate solutions and the important issue of security which are commonalities we all.

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Our Ocean Conference 2022 in Palau

Radio New Zealand Pacific Manager, Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor, wrote a recent post about how The Our Ocean Conference opened in Palau on this week and that more than 500 delegates from upwards of 80 countries are expected to attend.

The Republic of Palau and the United States are co-hosting the conference, which is seen as a key event for countries, civil society, and industry to commit to concrete and significant actions to protect the ocean.

This is the seventh year of the conference and the very first time it has been held in the Pacific region.

Palau’s lead for Our Ocean said it’s been a challenging few weeks but he feels everything is falling into place ahead of Wednesday’s opening.

The conference has been delayed a couple of times because of the global pandemic.

Bridge Thomas said holding the conference in the Pacific is hugely significant. “It’s an opportunity for our guests to see the challenges that small island developing states… like Palau and other Islands countries around the world face in the face of climate change”

Thomas said he is proud the Palauan culture will be a feature at the conference. “I think the most beautiful aspect of this country is our culture, and that is its people. We are a very hospitable people and we hope that everybody experiences a glimpse of our culture, our people and they take away the best from Palau when they return home.”

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New Zealand’s Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs Aupito William Sio is representing the New Zealand government at the conference.

The US Ambassador to Palau John Hennessey-Niland said there are a lot of ‘firsts’ in this conference. “It’s the first; the first time that Our Ocean conference will be held in the Pacific, the first time it will be held by an island nation, the first time it is being co-hosted by the United States and the Republic of Palau. I think it’s the perfect example of partnership, of coming together in the Pacific way.”

Hennessey-Niland said despite the previous postponements because of Covid-19 both nations are determined to make sure the event does take place. “We are going to have over 80 nations represented here in Koror this week, I think over 150 NGOs represented as well. It is an opportunity for dialogue, for discussion, and I think that’s particularly appropriate in the Pacific, it is the Pacific way and it is a priority.”

Our Ocean initiator the former US Secretary of State John Kerry leads the US delegation in Palau. “It’s perfect that Mr Kerry is now coming to Palau to co-host with President Whipps, to have a conversation and more than that, to announce new commitments,” Hennessey-Niland said.

The publisher of Palau’s Island Times believes holding the event in the country is timely as there are so many issues now relating to oceans.

“And I think not only to us as the Republic of Palau but for us as a Pacific country to bring attention to the oceans and what we see every day that maybe many countries don’t understand,” Leilani Reklai said.

During this conference, the Island Times has launched a new daily Pacific media briefing on the conference.

Reklai said that locally we have been more focussed on what’s inshore and the immediate impact on our lives. “But I think more than ever we are starting to see that looking at the bigger ocean, looking at what your neighbours are doing in their oceans with the policies around not only the region but the world regarding the ocean has an impact on our daily lives.”

For example, she said, we are looking at an inundation of plastic trash in our waters and we know we are not the ones putting the plastic out there but it’s affecting our marine life.

She said Palau is the best showcase example of what is happening elsewhere: “And I think what’s happening here in the oceans will be able to be reflected in other countries as well, especially our Pacific neighbours.”

The conference will be opened on Wednesday by Palau’s president Surangel Whipps Jr and the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

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