IUCN – The three vaka canoes sailing on the Mua Voyage have arrived in Port Vila, Vanuatu, and will soon re-launch with southeastern Queensland, Australia, the next destination to hear their message on people, oceans and climate change.
The Marumaru Atua of Cook Islands, the Uto ni Yalo of Fiji and the Gaualofa of Samoa received a warm welcome in Port Vila, after setting sail from Suva last Tuesday. Once they depart Port Vila, they will take up to 10 days to reach the Brisbane/Gold Coast area of southeastern Queensland.
The voyage will then sail down the eastern coastline of Australia, eventually joining up with the fourth vaka canoe – the Haunui of New Zealand. On Wednesday 12 November, the voyaging canoes will sail into Sydney Harbour for the opening day of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014.
The voyage brings a message from the Pacific Islands to the world about people, oceans and climate change. It asks the world to appreciate the global significance of the Pacific Ocean space in a climate-challenged plant. It seeks partnerships and commitments to help protect the great ocean and sustain the Pacific Islands for future generations and for the health of the planet.
As it sails under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the vaka canoes will have on board political leaders, heads-of-state and other dignitaries from the Pacific Islands region. They will include: His Excellency Anote Tong, President of Kiribati; His Excellency Tommy Remengesau, President of Palau; and Hon. Henry Puna, Prime Minister of Cook Islands.
The World Parks Congress is the landmark global forum on protected areas, held once every ten years, and is expected to bring together more than 4,000 people from at least 160 countries.