March 2nd: Stand with the Warriors of the Pacific

Keina Tu mai Ta olo                                                             Stand Up Let’s Go
Keina tu mai ta o                                                                     Stand up, let’s go
Kae whakatonu ko to ta aho                                                    To organize our day
Keina tu mai ta o                                                                     Stand up, let’s go
Kae whakatonu ko toku aliki                                                    My Lord be with me
Ko toku aliki Tui Tokelau                                                          Lord of Nature Tui Tokelau
Hau he matagi ke moli au                                                        May a wind carry me (there)
Tui o Nuku Tui o Vavau
Hau he matagi keina tu
Hoa, hoa lava

Those words of blessing come from the Pacific archipelago of Tokelau. They carry special significance in this moment because tomorrow – Saturday, March 2nd – thousands of warriors from Tokelau and across 14 other Pacific Islands will be mobilizing at prominent locations to perform their unique war challenges, songs, and dances. They will carry a single message to the world and that is, “We are not drowning. We are fighting, and we need you to fight with us.” 

These warriors know who their opponents are in this fight. It’s clear that the islands will no longer exist if the fossil fuel industry digs up all the coal, oil and gas it plans on burning. We’re at a breaking point: it’s the future of the Pacific Island nations and territories – like Tokelau, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands – versus the bottom-line of the fossil fuel industry. Their business model threatens the Islands’ very survival, and since they will not back down in this fight, not Tokelau, not Fiji, not any island, then the fossil fuel industry must change its ways. 

We already know that this change is possible, and the Pacific Islands are leading that change. Last November, Tokelau shut off the diesel generators that used to power the islands and switched over to 100% clean, renewable solar power. They were the first country to show the world that it is possible to go towards 100% renewable energy. Now, we are urging others to join in this commitment.

The narrative written so far for the Pacific islands nations has been one of victims at the hands of climate change, succumbing to the rising sea-levels. While it is true that island nations are and will continue to be at the front line of climate impacts, it is time to show the world the true warrior spirit of the Pacific Islands, and that they are not drowning, and that they are not about to give up.

As the people of the world see this warrior spirit, we must act to make sure that the world never gives up on the Pacific Islands. But acting will require us to find the strength, will and power to give up on fossil fuels. This is what it will take to change the narrative for the future of the Pacific Islands.

Calling up the spirit of the Pacific Warrior

One of our 350 Pacific organisers described why they chose to call on the fighting spirit of warriors and war dances: 

The War dance is an integral part of Pacific history and tradition. It is symbolic of the very traditions and culture we fight to keep alive. The war dances were chosen as the medium for this day of action for this very reason. Every Pacific nation has a unique culture and a war dance that is representative of that culture; it is a common thread across all Pacific nations. The Pacific organizers felt it was hence appropriate to use the war dances as a symbol of solidarity amongst the island nations and to channel the pacific warrior spirit.

Stand in solidarity with the Pacific Warriors

As the photos stream in from across the Pacific Islands, we will be moving to share them in every corner of the world – through Facebook, email, Twitter (with the hastags #PacificWarriors and #climate) and our exciting photo solidarity platform. Wherever you are, you will be able to show that you are fighting with the Pacific Islands.

You can also sign the pledge of support here.

A huge thanks to our key sponsoring partner, the Pacific Voyagers Foundation. 

Also thanks to our partner, UNICEF Pacific

 

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