In the Pacific, the moana (ocean) does not divide our islands, it unites us.
For centuries, Indigenous peoples have recognised that the oceans are a creative force of nature and form the foundation of our blue planet. We have enjoyed a special relationship with the gods of the oceans, including Hinemoana, the progenitor of the whales and other taonga (keystone) species.
Our oceans play a crucial role in regulating the Earth’s climate and can help reduce climate change by storing large amounts of carbon, absorbing approximately a quarter of atmospheric carbon created by people.
However, the ocean is warming and rising. Every day Pacific peoples face unprecedented threats to our way of life. Every day, the mauri, the life force, and halo of Hinemoana, also becomes increasingly depleted.
Recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and United Nations reports have highlighted how traditional knowledge systems could do more to address climate change than many current approaches. While at the same time, the momentum to ensure the full and equitable inclusion of Indigenous peoples within climate change policy and global leadership continues to increase.
After decades of advocacy, there is growing international support and recognition that promoting the recovery of Indigenous cultures and ocean biodiversity is intimately linked with mitigating the impacts of climate change.
A Blue Carbon Economy for the Pacific
Now, more than ever, as the oceans of Hinemoana are rising, the peoples of the Pacific are also rising to combat climate change. There is no more time for debate. We must act today.
Next month, at COP27 in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, Conservation International will launch the Hinemoana Halo Ocean Initiative to deliver this new and vital partnership with Indigenous Māori tribes to provide ocean climate leadership in coordination with Pacific leaders from across the region.
Our shared goal is to advance a region-wide movement to reconnect with our common ocean heritage and legacy as kaitiaki (guardians) of our moana and taonga species.
Hinemoana Halo will promote self-determination among Indigenous peoples to protect, manage and monitor their coastal waters and high seas in partnership with local communities, using both traditional approaches and current science.
So this endures, Hinemoana Halo will involve a sustainable financing mechanism that delivers marine protection and provides direct benefits to Indigenous people, from jobs to infrastructure and opportunities.
Hinemoana Halo is focused on promoting inter-indigenous economic relations and trade across Aotearoa and the Pacific.
Contact us to learn more.