INAUGURAL MEETING


One Voice / Island Voices of the Pacific
Nature is part of us 

Over the course of a week in October 2015 (in both formal and informal gatherings) cultural, community, and conservation leaders from eight Pacific countries gathered together to share their experiences in ocean conservation and management – experiences shaped by their island heritage, cultural values and traditions.


The group came together in Santiago as individual voices but left as one, committed to a shared kaupapa or purpose. That being -
  • To come together as one voice, connecting peoples, generations, aspirations and actions in support of ocean conservation across the Pacific
  • To share the message healthy ocean / healthy life beyond traditional (geographic and cultural boundaries)
  • To bring a level of conscience to investments and actions impacting the state and health of our Pacific 
  • To inspire all children / all peoples to understand our ocean and take action
  • To bring together different views
  • To lead by example

I. What Guides Island Voices?

Having come together from the farthest corners of the Pacific, those who gathered in Santiago quickly identified a list of words that they feel describes the concepts and values that shape and guide the relationship of island peoples and our ocean. Those are:
  • Mana 
  • Tradition
  • Wisdom
  • Sacredness
  • Vision
  • Connection
  • Kuleana / Privilege and Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Rights
  • Hope
  • Clarity
  • Knowledge
  • Learning
Also emerging as strong reference points for island peoples and their ocean conservation ambitions were –
  • The strong bond that island peoples have to their environment, and the responsibility and privilege that comes with that bond;
  • The reciprocal relationship between nature and island peoples (natural and spiritual, lifestyle and livelihoods, tradition and legacy)
  • The integral links between island peoples values, rights, culture and livelihoods
  • The importance and power of the thinking of many (the community, island and Pacific collective)
  • A long-term rather than short-term view and a commitment to inter and multi-generational transmission of knowledge and learning

II. Ocean Ambitions

Shaped by these values, and influenced by the commonly observed evidence of threat to the Pacific island and ocean environment (disappearance of fish, pollution and climate change) the conservation and management ambitions of those gathered in Santiago were quickly articulated by the Island Voices collective. These ambitions included –
  • a healthy Pacific that is held responsibly in the hands of island peoples
  • an ocean full of fish
  • a clean ocean
  • a Pacific that champions the unique voice and identity of its peoples 

III. Island Voices Collective Action

With shared values providing a strong foundation, and within the embrace of their agreed kaupapa, the Island Voices group identified a number of potential and anticipated roles and responsibilities for themselves and their peers across the Pacific. All of these roles and responsibilities were described by those gathered as “doing what we know, sharing what is true”.
  • Providing a voice of mana and traditional stewardship / kuleana and kaitiakitanga) in support of peoples and their places that are already protected
  • Giving voice to a heart and minds / nature and culture form of conservation advocacy
  • Being watchful of ocean conservation and management across the Pacific
  • Inspiring the development of responsible and educated voices across the Pacific through awareness raising, mentoring and the sharing / transmission of traditional knowledge
  • Being available and ready to respond as a collective 
  • Informing and inspiring philanthropists, NGOs and Governments
  • Transmitting knowledge and traditional values to young people 

IV. Individual Reflections

The summary of values, ambitions and roles outlined above were directly informed by the stories and experiences of the individuals who came together in Santiago. Some of those reflections are recorded below to give background, meaning and inspiration to the statements above.
  • “We come together as brothers, our connection is human and oceanic”
  • “Canoes and islands have been important for Polynesian survival”
  • “We need to ask, how do we protect / take care of our “mother” (our ocean)?”
  • “ We (island peoples) are always striving to achieve balance – what to take, when to take, what to leave”
  • “Our children must be part of our effort to protect our ocean”
  • “It is our responsibility to teach our children to respect our ocean”
  • “The secrets of our land and sea are hidden in the elders and fishermen in our communities. We much reconnect our communities with those secrets”
  • “It is a privilege for the secrets of elders to be bestowed on young people”
  • “ Engaging young people is how we honour our traditions and make things better for the next generation”
  • “Our land, our ocean, our people, our future”
  • “We need to manage resources with respect for our ancestors”
  • “ Our pathways have always been by sea – we are driven by that tradition”

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