Pressure increases on the developed world to open its eyes to the realities of climate change, as the Mua Voyage expands to three canoes – sailing on behalf of all Pacific Islanders with the message to the world about ‘Our People, Our Islands, Our Ocean, Our Future’.
The three vaka canoes – the Marumaru Atua of Cook Islands, the Uto ni Yalo of Fiji, and the Gaualofa of Samoa, which also has crew from Tonga – departed Suva, Fiji, this morning on the third leg of the Mua Voyage. They were farewelled with a ceremony at the USP foreshore this morning.
The three canoes will sail to Vanuatu and then on to Australia, where they will join up with the Haunui of New Zealand. The four canoes will then sail together into Sydney Harbour – a high-profile and visible way to grab the world’s attention and convey the critical message on oceans and climate change.
The vaka canoes will sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Wednesday 12 November, the opening day of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014. The Congress is the landmark global forum on protected areas, held once every ten years, and is expected to bring together more than 3,000 people from at least 160 countries.
“We the government and people of Fiji recognise the importance and bravery of what [you] are about to do, and the messages you are taking to Australia… When they see those Pacific sails, they’ll ask and wonder who you are and they will hear your call, your message from all of us – not just to the Congress but to the public of rich countries – [from] ‘ridge to reef’, our collective concern is about our people, our ocean and climate change… This message is very important – you are representing our countries and our families. I’m very proud and envious of you and your bravery” said Attorney-General of Fiji, Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who was Chief Guest at the farewell ceremony.
The voyage shows the lengths that Pacific Islanders are willing to go to just to get the world’s attention on the important issues of management of the oceans and addressing climate change. The voyage demands the world join with Pacific Islanders to protect and manage the large ocean spaces in this climate-challenged world.