“Against all the odds, and the threats we face to our lands, our cultures, and our ways of life in the Pacific, we have survived and we continue to resist. The time has come for us to reach out across the vast ocean that binds us to support each other’s’ struggles and start to organise against the climate crises that we as Pacific peoples are facing”
Indigenous peoples of the Pacific have called Te Moana Nui a Kiwa our spiritual and cultural home for thousands years. We lived in harmony with our environment and each other; we were self-sufficient and had 100% of our lands, culture, custom and language.
Climate change is a clear and present danger to the Pacific peoples, land, lives; culture and peoples are at risk. Climate change is not a distant threat it is happening now. Rising sea levels are eating up our islands and the resulting salination means more and more arable lands for cultivation become untenable.
Preparing to build a strong Pacific presence at the climate change conference in Paris later this year we met for a preparatory meeting at Te Piringatahi o te Maungarongo Marae. We had Indigenous activists from Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawai‘i, Kiribati, The Federated States of the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and of course Aotearoa.
We spent our days planning different strategies to ensure that the Pacific will have a strong, visible and vibrant presence both inside the formal climate change negotiations but also out on the streets of Paris.
Keeping with that theme on Friday morning we collaborated with 350.org in a street theatre action.This action was to highlight and put pressure on the ANZ to divest from their investments in fossil fuels. The Pacific faces prospect of future climate change refugee camps if the ANZ continues to invest billions of dollars in fossil fuel industries and that this is “literally sinking the Pacific”.
The highlight for many of our delegates was our solidarity night. We got to share our culture and frontline stories about climate change and its impacts on us as peoples. We have built our strength and unity to represent our peoples to the best of our abilities while being mindful of our obligations to the values of our ancestors.
Together we can ensure those most responsible for climate change are held responsible and that those most impacted are supported. In defence of our land rights we are indigenous pacific peoples standing together for our collective self determination our tino rangatiratanga.
I for one am certainly strengthened by the time we have spent together. Building our friendships and unity as we stand up together to fight for our beloved Pacific. My thanks and appreciation to the organisers, to the wonderful people at Te Piringatahi o te Maungarongo Marae and their amazing manakitanga. My respect and deepest regards to my fellow Pacific Climate Warriors, even though this kaupapa is a heavy one we lessen our heavy load by sharing our struggles and supporting each other with our strong and loving Pacific hearts
One heart, one ocean, one home. – Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa.
Onward to Paris and COP21 !
Te Roroa, Te Uriohau, Samoa, Tonga.