9 Jul 2008

World Heritage Status set to ensure protection of Vanuatu's Roi Mata domain

9:01 pm on 9 July 2008

The head of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Marcelin Abong, says World Heritage status for the Roi Mata Domain will ensure protection of its cultural signficance and the surrounding environment.

The domain, comprised of part of Efate Island and two small adjacent islands, is one of three new Pacific World Heritage site named this week by a UNESCO committee in Quebec.

The other two are the reefs of New Caledonia and the Kuk early farming zone in the Papua New Guinea Southern Highlands.

Roi Mata was an innovative seventeenth century chief whose remains and those of around 50 of his followers are buried in the Domain.

Marcelin Abong, the director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, says the Domain has wide reaching significance.

"This site is very very important for all the people from Efate and also the outer, Efate off-shores, and also the Pacific Islands. All those people link or [are] relatives to these chiefs."

The site is considered culturally significant because Roi Mata's descendants still living in the area do so in the same manner he did, foregoing modern conveniences such as electricity.