Are you part of the Vaka?

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Tokelau documentary at COP25 offers big ocean solutions

COP25 SPECIAL

By LISA WILLIAMS

Madrid, SPAIN – December 9, 2019: 9am (PEJN): Tokelau has delivered a powerful video plea to the world at the COP25 negotiations in Spain.

A documentary titled ‘Vaka’ provides a journey into the small island community 500 kms away from Apia, Samoa, isolated from the world and accessible only by ship- and leaves the viewer in no doubt of the realities and resilience of remote Pacific atoll communities.

Massey University Media Production students Kelly Moneymaker and Mason Rudd were part of a small crew filming on Tokelau earlier in 2019. Their efforts earned them top marks, and the video was featured in a special session at the Pacific Pavilion led by Tokelau’s Ulu, Kelihiano Kalolo.

He says the opportunity to bring the lives and everyday challenges of Tokelauan families to the global stage in Spain “is a blessing, and an opportunity to bring our 1,500 people to be here with us, to bring our people into the meeting of the committee. There’s no better way of telling a story than through the people themselves, so it’s been a big moment for us. It’s very emotional for us as well.”

Kalolo says while a handful of families, leaders and talking heads are featured on screen, “believe it or not the whole of Tokelau got behind the filming, they were there supporting.”

Tokelau’s Ulu, Kelihiano Kalolo at the Moana Pacific Pavilion in Madrid, Spain. Photo: LISA WILLIAMS/PEJN

Vaka brings home the visuals of vulnerability- low lying islands surrounded by ocean, communities living close to nature and at the mercy of the elements and mother nature for their basic needs.

The opening minutes of Vaka feature a traditional fishing expedition using flares to attract flying fish, we are taken through homes and communities where women weave, children are at play, and island based officials speak of the lived impacts of climate change eating away at shorelines, impacting on water supplies and fishing patterns for the three village atolls Fakaofo, Atafu and Nukunonu.

Despite the challenges, Vaka sets out to offer hope and solutions says Tokelau’s Climate Manager Paula Faiva. She’s pleased with the focus the doco takes on cultural and community practices, the structures of social cohesion and order, and ‘Vaka’ values of Tokelauan life.

The Tokelau challenge here at COP, she says, is to remind the world of the need to move together and appreciate the way in which everyone in the vaka works together to ensure they reach a common destination.

  • Our Pacific Environment Journalists Network (PEJN)s independant reporting from COP25 has been made possible with travel support from a multi-stakeholder project helping Pacific nations achieve their 1.5 climate ambition to save the Oceans, and the planet.
    Want to know more about what your nation is doing to walk the climate talk? Google  #PacificNDCHub or email the Senior Technical  Adviser, Regional Pacific NDC Hub  via christine.fung@giz.de

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