Islands in the South Pacific are at the forefront of climate change, facing it’s effects on a daily basis. Low lying nations such as Kiribas are facing inundation due to sea level rise. Across the Pacific islands are affected by temperature change, coastal erosion, increasing storms, cyclones and drought. Pacific islands are some of the lowest contributors to climate change, yet remain some of the most affected by it.
The conservation organization IUCN paired with other NGO’s and Pacific voyaging societies to organize a voyage across the Pacific, that would allow people at the forefront of climate change to address their fears to a global audience. It was a voyage that would take months and cross thousands of kilometres of open seas, culminating in the vakas arriving at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney.
There is a strong tradition of voyaging across open ocean in Pacific culture, with many Pacific islands originally discovered by sailing. The vaka is a double hulled, double masted canoe, historically constructed by hand from a singular tree trunk. A sustainable means of transport, the vaka utilizes natural resources such as the suns rays for electricity, through solar panels fitted to the stern.
The following stories are from the Gaualofa, the Samoan Vaka, on the 5 day journey from Fiji to Vanuatu.