Arrival in Solomon Islands

We set sail from Kieta, Bougainville in the late afternoon on our course to Taro, the main centre of Choiseul Island in the Solomon islands. With the moon giving us plenty of light, we sailed at an average speed of 6 knots and used the eastern star to guide us towards Taro. We had to sail through the night to hide from possible trouble coming from Buin which is reputed to be a ‘danger zone’. Morning came and we were now 4 miles from our destination. We sailed past the western side of Taro putting our trawl lines to the test along the reef but unfortunately we didn’t catch anything. Jimmy Kereseka, the environment co-ordinator from the Lauru Land Conference of Tribal Communities (LLCTC) spotted us from a distance, and came out to meet us with his son Philemon before escorting us to Supizae Island, where he and his family live.

Young Philemon Kereseka, son of Jimmy Kereseka piloting Climate Challenger into Taro, the main town of Choiseul Province, Solomon Island.

We quickly had our breakfast then dressed in our traditional attire ready for the historic welcome. We sailed into Taro Market beach front dancing to beat of the garamut where on the beach, Premier Jackson Kiloe and his executive members, invited guests and Lauru warriors were waiting for us. Many people gathered to see the Manus canoe arriving on their shores for the first time in the history of Choiseul Province.

The Lauru warriors welcoming the Climate Challenger to Choiseul. Photo: Jimmy Kereseka

Premier of Choiseul waiting on shore for the arrival of the Climate Challenger. Photo: Jimmy Kereseka

The Climate Challenger crew perform a traditional Manus dance for the gathering of people at the Taro Market area on Taro Island, the main centre of Choiseul Island, Solomon Islands

We are now residing with Jimmy and his family on Supizae Island about a 5 minute boat ride to Taro. The canoe has been in the water for a month now so we have hauled it out of the water to dry it, will replace some of the heavy timbers and outrigger and do some maintenance and repair work. This week we will be conducting a drystone wall workshop on Taro and probably spreading climate change and environment awareness around Choiseul. We hope to disembark Taro for Wagina soon.


Climate Challenger hauled out at Supizae island, the home of Jimmy Kereseka and head quarter of LLCTC (Lauru Land Conference of Tribal Communities) office. Climate Challenger will undergo minor repair/maintenance for a week on Supizae Island.

Categories: Climate Challenger in the Solomon Islands | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Buka and Beyond

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.

Numanuma, Bougainville

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.

Kieta, Bougainville

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!

Signing off,

Capt. Manuai Matawai

Categories: Climate Challenger in Bougainville, Climate Change, Conservation | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

Bobo, Babase and Buka

We are now on Buka Island, well and in good health. It has been a risky, challenging and adventurous trip so far after completing almost 300 nautical miles (600 kilometres) from Manus to Buka before we leave home ground (water!) and head into international waters for the first time on this voyage.

New Crew Member

We left Lihir with an extra crew member – Bobo from Kavieng, whose parents are from Manus and Kavieng and who joined us for the Lihir to Buka leg of our journey. Sadly, he will be leaving us shortly to fly back to Lihir but wished to take up the challenge and travel with us on this adventurous voyage across the Pacific. You will find many of our photographs and videos were taken by Bobo.

Bobo joined the Climate Challenger from Lihir to Buka, Bougainville to experience the challenge of ocean voyaging life. Photo: Manuai Matawai, taken at Lif Island of the Tanga Islands group

Young Bobo getting some hands-on experience taking video. Photo: Manuai Matawai

Anir Island (Babase Island)

The journey to Anir (Babase) Island was rough, and we lost a box full of supplies containing axes and all cooking equipment overboard.

Molean Polin preparing sago for breakfast, a meal for a long journey to give us energy before setting sail from Tanga to Anir island. Photo by Manuai Matawai (taken before we lost all cooking equipment)

Climate Challenger crew enjoying our traditional Manus staples – sago and fish, for breakfast. Photo Manuai Matawai

We spent 2 nights at Anir (Babase) Island, and during that time, we played climate change awareness films, shared Mbuke Island’s climate change adaptation experience and of course performed our Manus dancing. Over 100 people came to watch and listen and villagers told us they have observed climate change impacts in their gardens.

The community of Babase had never seen a canoe as large as the Climate Challenger before, and several people wanted to buy it.  Manuai has promised to return at some stage after the trip and help them build their own one.

The young Anirians welcoming us to Anir (Babase) Island. The ocean looks deceivingly calm, but a day before it wasn’t so calm and we lost a box of supplies overboard in the rough sea. Photo: Bobo

Entertaining on Anir showing the Manus Way. Photo: Bobo

Matsungan Island, Buka Island, Bougainville

We arrived Matsungan island on Buka Island at 9 am on Tuesday. The team was greeted by the chief of Matsungan and welcomed to the island with the traditional practice of feet washing. Culturally, the washing of feet is supposed to bring luck to first time visitors to the island (and maybe wash away bad luck!). We had a short program in the evening where we gave awareness on climate change and showed off the Manus garamut dance.

Chief Tokome of Matsungan Island leads Climate Challenger crew to shore

A Matsungan woman washes the Climate Challenger crew’s feet as part of welcome initiation. Photo: Manuai Matawai

Crew welcomed by the Matsungan community. Photo: Manuai Matawai

Buka Town, Bougainville

We arrived Buka town at 11 am yesterday with a rousing welcome by the Manus community and Bougainvilleans. A refreshment was hosted by the Manus Community followed by a dinner hosted by Mrs. Josephine Manuai Nakin and family, a Manus long time business woman on Buka Island.

Young Bobo on Climate Challenger. Manus/Buka boat escorts Challenger to port. Background; vandalised Starship vessels. Photo: Manuai Matawai

Crew welcomed at Leta village, Buka Passage. Photo: Manuai Matawai

Bobo and Joseph testing out Buka’s giant sized betel nut. Photo: Manuai Matawai

We have been filming all of our adventures and encounters. It is really amazing to see the crew having no fear. Every day we strategise, reach consensus and act… The journey so far has made us more resilient, adaptive and innovative. It is a great experience for us. Sometimes, we give up hope when our prayers are not answered and we encounter rough seas, but then we have come to realise that it is all about testing our faith.

The challenge ahead is, ‘are we able to complete the voyage????’ Only the WIND will tell.

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Climate Challenger at Lihir Island

After Kavieng, we set sail for Lihir Island a small island with a large gold mine operated by the Australian based mining company Newcrest, which at this time are also prospecting for gold on our own island of Manus.

On our way to Lihir Island, New Ireland Province.

Modern meets traditional: Manuai testing the satellite communications gear

We arrived at Lihir Island late last Thursday night (13th Sept) and were greeted with dinner made by the Manus community.

Dinner on arrival. photo: Manuai Matawai

During our stay on Lihir Island we shared our experience of climate change adaptation in Manus and performed our traditional garamut dancing at Lihir International School to coincide with 37th Papua New Guinea Independence celebration.

Manuai thankfully receives a donation at the climate change fund-raising night

On a less positive note, when the we saw the scale of the gold mine on Lihir island and the impacts it is having on the people and environment, it really hit home for us. This could soon be a reality on our own island of Manus where Newcrest is currently prospecting and proposing to open another large gold mine.

The Climate Challenger crew at the Lihir gold mine, New Ireland, PNG

When crew member Pokakes Pondraken saw the mine he commented with “It is a monster. I hope it does not happen in Manus (Worei), as it will destroy our reefs and spawning aggregation sites”.

Photo: Panoramio by user Petadel

The tailings are dumped out at sea and as you can see from this picture, there is a lot of sedimentation and runoff, which invariably affects the coral and marine life. It is a disaster for the environment. We also noticed alot of steam and gases rising out of the mine which is attributed to the geothermal activity of the volcanic island, and most probably contributes to climate change too.

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Paddling to Kavieng

Two days ago, on Sunday 9th, we reached the tip of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, so we are now in Kavieng fixing our rudder (with the help of the National Fisheries College), doing minor repairs, charging batteries, checking emails and doing some sightseeing. Yesterday we made a convoy with 8 other boats from the Manus community living in Kavieng to the local market where we put on a show for local NGOs, Government officials and the public. We blew our tapur (cone shell), beat the garamut and danced in our traditional attire. It was an exciting day and all the crew were buzzing. A few days before, we were not so enthusiastic….

After leaving our home villages of Pere and Baluan Islands, saying sad farewells and summoning the spirit of Sir Paliau Maloat the late Win Neisen leader to guide us on this voyage, we encountered a very strong wind about 50 nautical miles (100km) from Baluan Island. It was dark and we were manouevering well but all of a sudden our rudder snapped off. From there we had no choice but to use the outboard motor. For the next day and a half we battled with strong wind and rough sea, sailing when we could. Tingwon Island was ahead of us, but by that time we had exhausted all fuel and water reserves. We had to change our plans to push on through to New Hanover Island while the wind was favourable. Just before we reached New Hanover, the wind changed direction so we got the paddles out and paddled in the dark, putting the sails up whenever the winds turned.

Once we reached the western side of New Hanover, we searched for petrol and water. We were first greeted by a man called Manase in his small outrigger canoe- a godsend to us, who saw us coming and guided us back to his village, Namaseleng, where we were warmly greeted with Buai from a community that had never seen a canoe as large as the Climate Challenger before. After restocking our water and fuel supplies we set sail arriving at Kavieng on Sunday afternoon.

Once everything is in order (including a new rudder) we are expecting to depart Kavieng for Lihir Islands, New Ireland, tomorrow.

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Our Voyage Featured on Planet Change Blog

We are very happy to tell you that our voyage has grabbed the attention of The Nature Conservancy’s Planet Change Blog – dedicated to enhancing the conversation on climate change and inspiring actions of all sizes.

You can see the blog post here:

It is really great that our voyage is getting worldwide attention on this important issue of climate change, adaptation, and experiences of climate change from a Pacific island perspective! Lets hope the developed nations do something to curb their emissions to stop our islands from sinking!

An excerpt from The Nature Conservancy’s Planet Change blog article written about the Climate Challenger Voyage on the 7th Sept 2012.

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Broken Rudder

Good morning all.  Our travel to Kavieng was slowed by rough seas over the past 24 hours and the fact that we broke our rudder.  We did some on the spot repairs, and one of the canoes oars is now serving as a makeshift rudder – we will replace it when we arrive in Kavieng.  We are currently about 10 km from Tingwon Island, where we plan to stop and do some awareness.  The sun has come out this morning.  The boys are relaxing and chewing lots of buai and we are eating some yellowfin tuna we caught yesterday afternoon. The rough weather meant we were also unable to communicate with the shore support team until this morning.  All is well, see you in Kavieng.


Currently about 10km from Tingwon Island…

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Baluan Island to Kavieng, New Ireland

Only a few days into our voyage, and we are currently crossing the longest section of ocean so far- Baluan Island to New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. After spiritual ceremonies on Baluan, we left the island at 5pm last night. Over night the seas were quite rough, with a swell of about 2-3 metres, but with little wind and alot of rain. There is a small problem with the rudder which we will fix when we get to New Hanover late this afternoon hopefully.
We have a new map on our blog showing our latest position making it even easier for you to follow us on our journey. Once again thanks for all of your support!

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Climate Challenger Current Location

Click on the map for more information

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Goodbye Manus!

All is well, this morning (Thursday 6th September) we sailed the 40 km distance from Pere to Baluan Island, and have now set off with favourable south west winds for Kavieng, New Ireland, a distance of 360 km. We are currently working on an interactive map which will show our current location. Stay tuned!

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