Fighting for Our Survival

This December will mark the 5th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement, a crucial global climate treaty. The Pacific played a pivotal role in pushing countries to adopt more robust commitments – and has continued to lobby for necessary climate measures. However, many industrialized countries are failing to take the climate action needed to keep the planet at a liveable temperature of 1.5°C above normal.

With the COP26 negotiations cancelled this year, we still want to make waves about key climate truths. Created by artists across the Pacific, this film series showcases the emotional weight of the climate crisis, the urgency of action, and the way forward. 

Watch

“2030, 2040, long term versus short term
we debate this around the table.
We do the work, submit reports
but we are short on time. Before
the clock strikes midnight,
before the pumpkin rots
before our glass island shatters.”

Read the poems


Watch Chapter 1: Density of Vā, a poem by Frances C Koya Vaka’uta


Watch Chapter 2: Midnight, a poem by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner


Watch Chapter 3: Mana, a poem by Mia Kami

This film series. was produced by the Pacific Climate Warriors, 350.org, The Climate Vulnerable Forum, Agam Agenda, and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.

Midnight on 31 December is a survival deadline for the climate — and for some 1.2 billion vulnerable people living at the frontlines of a worsening global climate crisis.

Please join the Climate Vulnerable Forum (as known by our acronym, the CVF), in the Midnight Survival Deadline for the Climate initiative, an online and social media challenge to all countries to deliver on the Paris obligations they signed to protect our climate and our rights.

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About the Artists

Ropate Kama

Ropate is the Co-Owner of www.kamacatchme.com a Photography / Videography collective based in Fiji that specialises in capturing Destination Weddings, specifically in ‘Adventure / Off The Beaten Path’ elopements and Cultural weddings both in Fiji and internationally.

Kama Catch Me has accrued multiple Awards over the years since its inception in 2012, the most prestigious being the ‘Rangefinder 30 rising stars of 2018’ www.rangefinderonline.com

Ropate is an i-taukei (indigenous Fijian) who was born in the United Kingdom (where his dad served in the British Army) and was raised in Fiji from the age of 6.

His life experiences coupled with a deep longing to be home in Fiji whenever he was abroad, have been the inspiration behind his ability to not only tell relevant stories but more importantly, to connect his own emotions to these images and portray the essence of Fiji and her Mana to the Diaspora who feel physically disconnected and yet so fully connected at the same time.

 


1angrynative | Frances C Koya Vaka’uta

Associate Professor Frances C. Koya Vaka’uta is Director of the Oceania Center for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies at The University of the South Pacific in Suva. A curriculum design, development and evaluation specialist she has taught, developed courses and supervised graduate research in the areas of curriculum studies, curriculum development, practice and research, theories and ideas in education, education in small island states, culture and education, education for sustainable development and Pacific studies. Her research interests focus on Sustainability and Education for Sustainability with particular emphasis on Indigenous Research, Pacific Arts and Arts Education, Pacific epistemologies and methodologies, cultural competency and community and policy development. An advocate for locally driven solutions informed by meaningful engagement with Pacific indigenous peoples and local communities, she has also engaged in national and regional community and policy development, curriculum skills development, research and policy engagement. A poet and artist, her creative practice explores Pacific island heritage and contemporary issues in the islands. Beyond the page, she performs under the spoken word pseudonym 1angrynative.

 


Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner

Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner is a poet of Marshallese ancestry, born in the Marshall Islands and raised in Hawaiʻi. She received international acclaim through her poetry performance at the opening of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York in 2014. The University of Arizona Press published her collection of poetry, Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter in 2017. She has created art installations and performances with the Smithsonian and the Queensland Art Gallery, amongst others. In 2019, she was selected as an Obama Asia Pacific Leader Fellow and MIT Director’s Media Lab Fellow. She received her Master’s in Pacific Island Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi, and is currently a PhD student at Australia National University. Kathy serves as Climate Envoy for the Republic of the Marshall Islands government and as Director for the Marshall Islands-based youth environmental nonprofit Jo-Jikum.

 


Mia Kami

Mia Kami is a Tongan singer/songwriter based in Suva, Fiji. She is passionate about gender equality, indigenous sovereignty, climate change & the Pacific region. She channels these passions into songwriting & uses her music to tell her stories as a young Pacific woman. She believes that art is the strongest form of storytelling that connects Pacific and indigenous people to their ancestors & their descendants.

 


MATA

MATA is a Hip Hop dance company based in Suva. Mata was created on the humble grounds to serve the development of a Hip Hop Dance culture in Fiji! They wanted to create, nurture and develop opportunities for all aspiring dancers who have a passion for the dance genre Hip Hop.

At Mata they aim to provide dancers with the necessary opportunities, training and experiences to assist them to fully discover their full potential as individual artists in Fiji.

 

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The Poems

The Density of Vā

1angrnative on climate change in the Pacific

By Frances C Koya Vaka’uta

“In the space between the bleeding sky and dawn
voices wail in an unfamiliar tongue.

in the space between my pito and my mother’s bones
A white owl watches two eel-gods
Dying
As a dog
Howls
Red earth into black Lua- two
and rock watersky lines pierce my throat
atua – god in my belly.”

Read more

In the space between the bleeding sky and dawn
voices wail in an unfamiliar tongue.

in the space between my pito and my mother’s bones
A white owl watches two eel-gods
Dying
As a dog
Howls
Red earth into black Lua- two
and rock watersky lines pierce my throat
atua – god in my belly.

in the space between my head and my father’s teeth
There’s a stone
An ocean of tears
In my belly blood sand and a chant that is a scream
reachinginwardthen out
guttingmelike a fish.

in the space between my belly and the chant
that is the bleeding sky
human skin is stretched across fired stones
tempered with my grandmothers’ tears
calling to the spirits of her people
I shout to the heavens between us
for a sign
becausepulotu is not above us
it is in the sea.

in the space between pulotu and the words that bring my soul to life
There rests a broken, blackened shell
Gnarled and discarded
by the strangers who do not love us…
I am thrust into unforgiving arms
Where Moana reminds me that
Between/Within/And without
I am of the deep sea
Green Tanu and blue Vasa.

in the space between sleep and my grandfathers’ eyes
There is a dying flame
birthed from fire stolen from the fingers and toes of a dead god
and a fire in my belly
That is Pele wailing
I, she, we callforMaui to wake and slow the sun again
to douse the fiery skies.

in the space between the fiery skies and a sleeping Maui
There is a bird
That is Tagaloa
And he roars
As I am impaled on a magic hook
That once pulled islands from the fire of the sea.

in the space between a bird and a magic hook
Rests the soft curve of a woman
That is a bloodclot
Hidden in my belly
Nafanua grinds her teeth against my bones
marking my body with black lines
inking my eyelids and tongue.

in the space between the open sea
There’s a fire in the sky
Fish die in boiling waves
Saumaiafe wakes the dead
Waiting for the end or the beginning
There’s a grinding of teeth in my belly and it hurts.

in the space between knowing and the known
There is a gathering of stillborn children to a mother’s breast
Remembering words now forgotten
in the language of trees
in my belly the roots of fringing reefs
clumped with blood and knotted hair.

in the space between knower and knowledge
we have become orphans
Blessed only with blood and pain
As Afunakwa sings of a bleeding heart
Dry salt in my belly
The secrets of birds are lost.

in the space between place and breath
our gods are condemned to the wind
the dreams of fish
Discarded by strangers who do not love us
fishhooks in my belly pull me to shore.

in the space between I am and I will
We measure the density of va
In the pit of my belly
There is a seed
And it is sadness.

in the space between climate justice and climate redemption
stands the one-eyed Hikuleo
her hair a tangle of black roots
In her belly the children of sky
brown as the earth is old
Their tears are ‘the ocean in us’
In my belly
Hina of the moon
and she weeps.

© Cresantia Frances Koya, 2010

Midnight

By Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner

“For Tony, we’ll say
For Tony

Corals are resilient I’ve been told
and so are we – we’ve survived worse. Just ask
your elders they’ll lift their shirts, show you
bunker scars, typhoon tent towns, atomic nightmares
of lost irradiated islands. So this
is just another incoming tide to shore up against”

Read more

For Tony, we’ll say
For Tony

Corals are resilient I’ve been told
and so are we – we’ve survived worse. Just ask
your elders they’ll lift their shirts, show you
bunker scars, typhoon tent towns, atomic nightmares
of lost irradiated islands. So this
is just another incoming tide to shore up against

Hence seawalls
Hence foreign aid
hence consultants, terms of references,
a framework for asking each other: Which island
will we move to? Which island will be hit first?
Which island is worth salvaging?

The wreck – a slow moving accident, the Ultimate
Disaster. Atollic oblivion.
As if we haven’t experienced this before
As if we haven’t been told that evacuation
is safer.
You’ll come home
Some day

2030, 2040, long term versus short term
we debate this around the table
We do the work, submit reports
but we are short on time. Before
the clock strikes midnight,
before the pumpkin rots
before our glass island shatters

are we so easily broken?

Maybe we need flags
to tell us how afraid we should be
We have flags for covid threat levels:
yellow for safe, yellow for prepare, yellow for
complacency, yellow worth celebrating. Covid free.

The US is celebrating, part of it
anyway, they are dancing in the street and
kissing babies because celebrations are worthy
because the US will be back in the Paris treaty
because it feels like multiple breaths taken at once,
like bubbles bursting through reefs

We reassemble ourselves
We gather the calcium carbonate to grow
our coral skeletons into sunlight

Look –
up ahead –
a lush marine garden awaits

For Tony, we’ll say
For Tony

Mana

By Mia Kami

“Why do we accept definitions of how our people should be?
Based off of written accounts of a man who looks nothing like me
He could speak our language but not from his heart
When he wrote our history he set us apart
Abandoned and bruised
Left alone in the dark”

Read more

Why do we accept definitions of how our people should be?
Based off of written accounts of a man who looks nothing like me
He could speak our language but not from his heart
When he wrote our history he set us apart
Abandoned and bruised
Left alone in the dark

But i wont let that past define who i am
When i listen closely
I hear my ancestors chant

Tell our stories
Redefine a past that was written for us before
Add a chapter
Its time to write a little more
Recast the future
Its time to let our stories soar
This is my mana
My spirit
My soul
This is me

When did a textbook determine what makes me who i am
Pages that say nothing of the blood that was shed
Stolen resources and land
For there is still so much that we have yet to learn
Hidden in the archives that they couldn’t burn
It is rooted within us
Look closely and you will see
You will see

Tell your stories
Redefine a past that was written for us before
Add a chapter
Its time to write a little more
Recast the future
Its time to let our stories soar
This is my mana
My spirit
My soul
This is me

She spoke to the oceans
She sang with the trees
She can be heard in the quiet whispers of the breeze
She is everything i aspire to be
She is mana
She lives in me
She spoke to the oceans
She sang with the trees
She can be heard in the quiet whispers of the breeze
She is everything i aspire to be
She is mana
She is me

Tell your stories
Redefine a past that was written for us before
Add a chapter
Its time to write a little more
Recast the future
Its time to let our stories soar
This is my mana
My spirit
My soul
This is me

I wanna bring power back to my people
Wanna bring power back to my home
I can bring power back to my people
I can bring power back to my home
I can bring mana back to my people
I can bring mana back to my home
I will bring mana back to my people
I will bring mana back to the planet
That i call home

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