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From Supizae to Taro to Ysabel

The Climate Challenger Voyage is a community initiative inspired by The Nature Conservancy’s Manuai Matawai, who dreamed of building a traditional long voyage canoe and sailing around the Pacific to connect communities grappling with climate change through culture and conservation

Two years later, Manuai and nine other crew members—members of the Titan tribe of Papua New Guinea—are manning the Pere outrigger canoe that they built to travel more than 10,000 kilometers. Follow their journey on ClimateChallengerVoyage.net and on NationalGeographic.com.

Maintenance on Supizae Island
October 9, 2012

We are on Supizae Island working on the canoe but also took some time out fishing to support our daily meals. Last Friday, we caught some yellow fin tuna, skip jack and rainbow runner. We cut some into steak and cooked on barbecue. The rest of the fish were smoked. On Saturday, we had to rip timbers for the canoe. The work on canoe will be completed by tomorrow ready to set sail on Thursday to Isabel Province then to Honiara. While in Choiseul, we will be conducting a dry stone wall workshop and do more awareness on climate change and sea level rise. The PNG, Manus Community and the PNG High Commissioner are desperately looking forward to meeting us in Honiara. They will be staging a big welcome for us. We expect to arrive at Honiara by Friday next week. But on the way through, we will be making a stopover on Wagina and Kia in Isabel conducting awareness. Willie Atu from The Nature Conservancy, Honiara is expected to join the crew on climate challenger on Isabel province and sail to Honiara.

Farewell Taro
October 15, 2012

Climate Challenger back in the water with additional features ready to commence sailing. Photo by Manuai Matawai.

Our last day in Taro, Choiseul Island (Solomon Islands) was a busy day for us, making use of every hour to catch up with canoe work and spreading awareness on climate change before we departed for Wagina. We had a wonderful reception on Taro. Our deepest gratitude goes to Jimmy Kereseka and his family for taking care of our logistics and looking after the crew for almost a week here on Supizae Island. Also thank you to the Premier of Choiseul Province and friends for their support and hospitality.

Climate Challenger skipper Manuai Matawai presenting awareness on climate change and canoe voyage to students of Choiseul Bay Secondary School – photo by Jimmy Kereseka. 10/11/12

During our time on Supizae Island, we did three awareness shows; Taro, PoroPoro village and the last night at Choiseul Bay Secondary School.  It was a ‘Manus Way’ style show- garamut drum dancing, a brief on our canoe voyage including the objectives, then followed by climate change awareness answering questions such as “what is climate change?”, “how is it caused?”, and “what are the impacts and what can we do about it?”. Bernard Manus from Mbuke Island presented a case study of his island followed by playing the Mbuke/Whal climate change video documentary.

It was great to have Robyn James, the project manager of The Nature Conservancy’s Climate Change Adaptation project present with us and to witness and support our performance on Taro and last night at the school. Robyn commented that “climate change is thought about in Australia where I am from, but the concept of linking culture, conservation and climate change is exciting and much more interesting than learning from a book. I hope that your crew can one day come to Australia to share your culture and lessons about climate change with people there.”

Turtle Conservation at Arnavon Islands
October 15, 2012

Moses and the Climate Challenger crew with juvenile turtles ready to begin their journey in the sea of the unexpected. Photo by Manuai Matawai.

After leaving Taro, we stopped in at Wagina yesterday where a large community of Kiribati people now call home after being relocated here by the British last century.

The Climate Challenger and crew are now at the Arnavon Islands, Solomon Islands, known as the ‘home of the hawksbill turtle’. Moses Pema, a conservation officer at the Arnavons, took time to brief the boys on the turtle project and some of the activities carried out on the island. The crew went for a site visit around the turtle nesting places and witnessed young turtle hatchlings ready to find their way to the sea. Bernard Checheng Manus when interviewed about his short visit here said, ‘I have learnt a lot. I have seen the movie Home for Hawksbill, but now I have witnessed it myself. I will get back to my island and look after the turtle nesting places”.

I visited here in 2008 and after 4 years, I have seen a few changes; a new building erected, wireless satellite internet connection and solar lighting installed. But the sad news is that, the shore line is eroding as a result of rising sea level which will have an impact on the nursery areas for the turtle. We may lose this beautiful place on earth.

We expect to depart the Arnavon’s at 12 pm today for Kia where we will be doing awareness; connecting culture, conservation and climate change.

Ysabel Province, Solomon Island
October 24, 2012

The Climate Challenger anchored at Kia, Ysabel Province. Photo by Bernard Manus.

Our trip through the Solomon Islands so far has gone well with great coordination by The Nature Conservancy’s ground coordinating team- John Pita on Ysabel and TNC staff in Honiara. The communities of Kia and Buala hosted us with great hospitality. We did our usual culture, conservation and climate change awareness presentations which were really well received and appreciated by both the people and community leaders of Kia and Buala.  In Kia the crew were able to meet the famous Rence Zama, ‘Home For Hawksbill’ movie star, and video interview some locals on climate change issues.

The group also met Richard Hamilton and Glen Almany, marine scientists on Kia doing research on the hump head parrot fish. It has been a great experience for the crew to see new places for the first time. It has been a memorable journey so far that will never be forgotten.

On Buala, the crew were able to do a demo site for a dry stone wall next to Ivan Rotu’s place. We also left a copy of the dry stone wall video with Rotu for anyone interested. More than 50 people came to observe the walling demonstration. Manoi Ponowan also met with two people suffering from cancer and kidney stones. Manoi wasted no time looking around the forest searching for herbal medicine to treat the two patients.

Climate Challenger crew with Ivan Rotu and family after final stage of stone wall construction.

We left Buala on Sunday afternoon around 5 pm crossing over the western tip of Ysabel. The weather was quite rough with thunderstorms but the moon gave us plenty of light to find our way. We arrived in Honiara around 3 pm. Willie Atu from The Nature Conservancy and the media team met us on the way and escorted us to the Honiara Yacht Club. The crew joined other TNC partners here in Honiara for the welcome reception dinner at the Sea King Restaurant. Yesterday, the team performed a cultural dance at the Honiara National Museum and will do more presentations this week including one for the Australian High Commissioner this Thursday night.

Climate Challenger arrives at Honiara and crew pose with friend Jimmy Atu. Photo by Manuai Matawai.
Climate Challenger dancers at Honiara Art Gallery/Museum.