The Climate Challenger Voyage is a community initiative inspired by Climate Challenger captain/skipper; Manuai Matawai of Pere Village, Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, who 2 years ago had the dream to build a traditional long voyage canoe and sail around the Pacific ocean advocating on culture, climate change and conservation.
After 2 years of building the canoe, the dream has now come into fruition and the voyage will begin on the 29th August 2012 at Manus island, Papua New Guinea, home of the seafaring Titan people. Ten men – navigators, dancers and musicians from Pere, Baluan Island and Mbuke Island will crew a 48ft traditional style Pere outrigger canoe built locally from a mixture of local traditional and modern materials by the captain and crew themselves. From their homeplace they will sail alone from Melanesia to Micronesia stopping at New Ireland, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Kosrae, Ponape, Truk Island, Puluwat, Sorol, Yap, Palau, Aua Wuvulu, Ninigo and Hermit Islands and return to Manus- a total distance of more than 10,000 kilometres over about 2 months.
There are many facets to this voyage. The main purpose is to raise awareness of climate change and inspire community-based adaptation action, including conservation and protection of marine resources. The impacts of climate change are already felt by Pacific island nations, yet we have contributed nothing to cause these changes. Because of climate change, one day perhaps the people of Pere may be in the same situation as other communities from low-lying atolls – will we be environmental refugees? We cannot just sit and wait, we must act now, collectively uniting the voices of the Pacific to let developed countries know how their incessant use of fossil fuels and environmentally damaging practises such as logging and mining are affecting our livelihoods and environment.
Another important aspect is to promote pride of culture and the importance of preserving indigenous knowledge in a time when modern lifestyles are slowly eroding cultural heritage. The voyage demonstrates how we are connected to ocean and the spirits.
The Titan people are a seafaring people whose tribe originated in Pere on Manus but has since migrated out to other small islands of Manus. It is believed that hundreds of years ago one group of Titan people sailed by traditional canoe to Micronesia and settled on Ponape. It is hoped that on this voyage the Titan people can be reconnected to their lost tribe.
We will be documenting our voyage on a video camera using participatory video methods with the aim to make a documentary which can be used to advocate and leverage financial support.