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Traditional vaka used to tackle climate change

01 March 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News, In The Studio,

Traditionally designed Polynesian vaka are being used to transport cargo to remote Pacific islands to help reduce fossil-fuel emissions.

Okeanos distributing goods in the Marshall Islands. Photo/ Iva Vunikura.

The Okeanos Foundation is stationed across the Pacific mostly in remote islands where big freight companies don't usually operate.

Commander and master navigator Peia Patai says they're pushing for traditional Pacific navigation methods to be revived and raising climate change awareness.

"Our ways of propelling these vessels are sustainable," he says. "Using the sun, the wind and we have engines fitted on that use coconut oil that have been created by people on the islands so at the same time we're conscious of the ocean's health."

Some of the vaka are up to 75 feet long with double masts and have the capacity to carry up to three tonnes of cargo.

Patai says they currently have canoes based in Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands and the Mariana Islands.

"We maintain the knowledge of our ancestors by latching the beams and traditional sail designs, still steered by paddles or oars and still navigate traditionally at the same time," he says.

"Our Pacific Islanders have always been a vaka people and it's a way of tackling climate change."

Full interview with Brian Sagala on Pacific Breakfast:

Tags: environment,