Monday, December 1, 2014



 What have the Laughing Samoans got to do with Sailing Fijians?

That would have been the question in many minds as the Laughing Samoans performed their “Fresh of Da Blane” show to sold out audiences in Nadi and Suva last weekend. The show was organised as a joint project of WOWS Kids Fiji and the Uto Ni Yalo Trust.

Speaking before Friday night’s show, the Uto Ni Yalo Trust’s president, Ratu Manoa Rasigatale said, “Uto Ni Yalo Trust are deeply appreciative of the work of WOWS over the past years in raising funds to support children with cancer around the Pacific. In this regard, the Trust is honoured to be able to partner with WOWS Kids Fiji and present the Laughing Samoans “Fresh of Da Blane” tonight.”

He also added, “I think the Laughing Samoans wanted to call the show “Fresh of Da Boat” but were worried that we might force them to jump of the Uto Ni Yalo.”

In Suva, before the concert, a short film was screened about “MUA: Guided by Nature,” the upcoming voyage in which the Uto Ni Yalo and canoes and crews from Aotearoa/NZ, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga will take the message of the Pacific people to the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney in November.

The fact that the message about the importance and value we place on natural places is being taken across the ocean by traditionally sailed and navigated canoes is significant.

Across the Pacific, the voyaging canoe is said to represent genealogy. Pacific Islanders trace their origins to certain canoes, for each is a sacred and living treasure that connects people to their ancestry. The canoe is origin and possibility, heritage and story, and a poetic, powerful metaphor of planet Earth, reminding us that we are an island of finite resources, floating in the sea of space. As she voyages, the canoe embodies harmony, teamwork, respect and seeking new horizons.

As an oceanic people, Pacific Islanders have a history of navigating without instruments across vast distances to discover far-flung islands. They sailed by acute observation, educated intuition and intricate observation of the stars, sun, moon, wildlife and ocean swells. They were attuned to the
world around, constantly noticing the shape of the sea and the character of light through the clouds. This art of celestial navigation requires us to listen to nature as our guide and contains powerful lessons for the present and future.

Today we continue to voyage, recognizing the Earth as a planet of limited resources and our only home. In September this year the Uto Ni Yalo will join three other traditional canoes (Drua) to embark on a 6,000 nautical mile voyage navigating by the stars, before sailing into Sydney Harbour in time for the 6th World Parks Congress .

Recognizing the importance of our large ocean, our unique island spaces and their global value in a climate changing world, the Druas will carry a message from the people of the Pacific Islands to the World Parks Congress. With sails hoisted high as resolute flags in a troubled world, the Druas will amplify the region’s call for extraordinary commitment to manage our oceans and demand greater action from the rest of the world on climate change.

A number of Pacific Island leaders have, and continue to make a stand pledging millions of square kilometres toward protected marine areas while our communities drive local actions that secure and sustain livelihoods. In June this year, Anote Tong, the president of Kiribati —a chain of islands about halfway between Hawaii and Fiji—announced that commercial fishing will end in the country's Phoenix Islands Protected Area  on January 1, 2015.

"We will also close the area around the southern Line Islands  to commercial fishing to allow the area to recover," said Tong, who spoke at the Our Ocean  conference hosted by the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. The southern Line Islands also will be closed to fishing by the beginning of next year.

At the start of the 20th century, there were only a handful of protected areas in the world, although many have existed for generations. Over time they have been recognised as a mainstay of biodiversity conservation as well as contributing to people’s livelihoods. Today, there are approximately 200,000 protected areas in the world, which cover around 14.6% of the world’s land and around 2.8% of the oceans.

Fiji has 18 areas which are marine protected, nature reserve, recreation reserve or fauna reserve areas - 9 formally designated with another 9 informally designated: Cuvu Tikina, Draunibota and Labiko Island, Makogai Island, Manava Island, Mositi Vanuaso, Moturiki, Namenalala Island Resort, Nanuku Islet, Nukutolu Islets, Ogea Levu, Susui, Tavarua Island, Ulunikoro, Vuata Ono, Vuna (Waitabu), Vuo Island and Yadua Taba Island Crested Iguana Reserve                                                          
Protected areas provide a wide range social, environmental and economic benefits to people and communities worldwide. They are a tried and tested approach that has been applied for centuries to conserve nature and associated cultural resources by local communities, indigenous peoples, governments and other organizations.

Protected areas:
·         provide drinking water to one in three of the world’s 100 largest cities;
·         store the same amount of carbon as the tropical rainforests;
·         keep us healthy by being the source of clean air and water, as well as new medicines;
·         help reduce the risks and consequences of extreme events such as floods, storm-surges, drought and sea-level rise;
·         enhance food security by boosting fisheries and preserving wild relatives of crops; and
·         provide homes, jobs and livelihoods to millions of people around the world.

Be part of the voyage of the Uto Ni Yalo to the World Parks Congress: visit

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