The Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage is successful through empowering stories of hope and inspiration – like those shared in the South Pacific.
“In my opinion, the greatest environmental, single environmental issue of our time in the 21st century is to protect these oceans,” says Pwo Navigator, Nainoa Thompson.
Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Henry Puna says that, “The ocean is our front yard, it is our home, it is our mother in a sense, it nurtures us. You can almost say that ocean is part of our genetics.”
Honoring this ancestral tie to the ocean, the Cook Islands has committed to the largest marine park in history by a single country, one that will encompass over 925k square miles.
Puna says, “That is our gift to our future generations, but also to the world. Because everybody now realizes that the Pacific is the biggest factory of oxygen manufacturing.”
And while the Cook Islands carbon footprint is a drop in the bucket compared to industrialized nations, they have a policy and plan in place to become the worlds first zero-carbon emissions country by 2020.
“The other reason for doing that, apart from the environmental benefits is really economical. It will save us millions of dollars, in buying oil. And we have this free energy supply that’s beamed down on us from heaven every day,” says Puna.
Seeking out alternative energy sources that not only capitalize on, but maintain the islands’ natural beauty is also fundamental to main driver for these islands’ economies – tourism.
Crewmember and Environmental Attorney, Heidi Guth, says that, “the mayor was able to see an opportunity for a symbiotic relationship between a single economy and his local population. By having a very wealthy tourist industry, they are bringing in a certain clientele that is not only able but willing to pay for the beauty that surrounds them.”
Bora Bora overhauled the water treatment systems via a public private partnership where these luxury resorts cover the majority of the cost for distributed water that benefits not only the tourism industry, but all residents.
“It sets a really good example where if you’re going to develop say a massive luxury resort area then you have to pay for it. But you’re paying with your clientele’s dollars. It’s a very specialized example but what we’re looking for in this Mālama Honua voyage are examples that we can take for Hawaiʻi and for other island nations and for the world,” says Guth.
And that’s exactly what happened when the waʻa visited the village of Haʻapu, to learn about their traditional rāhui fisheries management system.
Mayor of Haʻapu, Claude Chong, says that, “Rāhui” isn’t about totally banning our people from fishing. Rāhui is meant to ensure that our ocean remains abundant.”
One of Haʻapu’s delicacies, the pāhua clam, is an indicator of just how healthy and abundant these reefs are that surround the area. The pāhua clams were over harvested in the past. Rāhui brought back the balance between the people of Haʻapu and the ocean that enriches their lives.
“Because of Hōkūleʻa’s voyage, we here in Haʻapu and Huahine can share our rāhui work with the world,” says Chong.