Fleet of Pacific Island canoes to sail on Coffs Harbour

TRADITIONAL Pacific Islander ocean-voyaging canoes are expected to cut across the horizon in Coffs Harbour tomorrow, as a climate change movement comes to our shores.

Using the seafaring traditions of their ancestors, 16-man Pacific Islander crews onboard three vessels have set sail from their Pacific homelands in a call for action to protect the future of the world's oceans.

The ocean-voyaging canoes, known as vakas, are expected to sail into Coffs Harbour early tomorrow as part of the Mua Voyage, which has been organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and its branches in Marumaru Atua (Cook Islands), Gaualofa (Samoa) and Uto ni Yalo (Fiji).

The crews will set sail from the Gold Coast at 4pm today and expect to reach the Coffs Coast around lunchtime after winds this morning fell to eight knots.

At 8.30am the fleet was situated off the coast of Evans Head.

Using nature as their guide, the sun, stars and the ocean, the crews plan to sail into Sydney Harbour for the opening day of the IUCN World Park Congress, which will attract around 5,000 delegates from 160 countries on November 12-19.

"As an oceanic people, we Pacific Islanders have a history of navigating without instruments across vast distances to discover far-flung islands," spokesman Colin Philp said.

"Our ancestors sailed by acute observation, educated intuition and intricate observation of the stars, sun, moon, wildlife and ocean swells.

"They were attuned to the world around, constantly noticing the shape of the sea and the character of light through the clouds.

"This art of celestial navigation requires us to listen to nature as our guide and contains powerful lessons for the present and future.Mua, he said simultaneously means the bow of a canoe, and to journey or travel in a certain direction.

"On the Mua voyage we are journeying on behalf of all the people of the Pacific Islands," he said.

The Mua Voyage can be tracked live here 

Topics:  climate change coffs harbour

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