Buka Island, Bougainville
On Buka Island, we connected with many friends from Manus, and also said goodbye to our friend Bobo who joined us on the Kavieng to Buka leg of the journey.
Before departing Buka we needed to arrange our travel documents since we are leaving Papua New Guinea waters and heading to the Solomon Islands. John Kiu from Manus island but based on Buka, has been very helpful in helping with that. Thanks John!
The Manus community held a farewell barbecue for us before we left.
We entered Numanuma first, where my cousin is based, before Taperoi. Over 100 people gathered at Numanuma and over 120 people gathered at Taperoi to see the Manus dance and listen to awareness on climate change. Some issues raised by these two communities are – shore line erosion, coral bleaching, they have already lost one of their islands, and fruit trees such as mango and rambutan are not bearing fruit. They also commented that it was their first time to see the Manus canoe and Manus dance and that we were the first group to come to their community to explain what climate change is and the threats to the environment, culture and livelihood. At the end of the awareness, both communities donated garden vegetables and K150.00 to climate challenger crews. We left Taperoi at 4 pm to Kieta.
The Climate Challenger is in Kieta now. We visited Arawa town yesterday to do some shopping and have a look around. Arawa was my home from 1983 to 1986 when I did my grade 7 to 10 at Arawa High School before going to college from 1987 to 88. In 1989, I returned to Arawa and spent 3 months with Arovo Resort operating their ferry. I had to leave because of the crisis. Now Arawa town is not the same as before. Most shops were burned down including the hospital and government building. It really is a nightmare. Now, land owners are taking ownership of the businesses here which I for one appreciate the fact that we must run our own affairs/business etc. They have a rule here that they do not want to see foreigners (esp Chinese) doing business here.
Now it is very peaceful here. I encourage everyone to come and visit Arawa and hope to sail back to Arawa next year.
Taro, Choiseul Island, Solomon islands
We have decided to head straight to Taro on Choiseul Island, Solomon Islands from Kieta as the Shortland Islands are quite far out. We hope to spend a week in Taro doing minor repairs to the canoe. We need to replace some of the heavy timbers on the canoe’s platform and also to extend the canoe deck by 200mm to cater for rough seas. The crew have gained so much weight on the voyage so far (it must be from all the generous welcome ceremonies) so we need to raise the canoe draft for when we encounter big swell. We also need to replace the outrigger and cut a new one in Taro. We expect to depart Kieta tonight and are expected to arrive in Taro on Thursday 10 am.
Jimmy Kereseka from Taro has informed me that there will be a welcome lunch for us tomorrow with the Premier, PS and the executive members, chiefs and church leaders from and from around Taro. The Premier has expressed to his executives that this is a “historic moment for Choiseul Province because the Climate Challenger will first land here in Choiseul when they arrive in the Solomon Islands”. So we are all looking forward to this historic ceremony… Let the Wind take us through to Taro peacefully!
Capt. Manuai Matawai