Tokelauans to join Newcastle coal protest
Tokelauans to take part in environmental protest over the coal industry in Australia's Newcastle.
Four Tokelauans, dubbed Climate Change Warriors, have flown to Australia to join others from around the Pacific in a stand against that country's coal and gas industry.
Tokelau is one of a number of low lying Pacific nations that is seriously threatened by climate change.
They will join other environmental activists on Friday next week sailing traditional canoes aiming to hamper shipping on Newcastle harbour, the world's largest coal port.
Coal is considered one of the leading causes of climate change and a spokesperson for the Tokelau Warriors, Mikaele Maiava, told Don Wiseman they cannot sit idly by as the coal industry sinks the Pacific Islands.
MIKAELE MAIAVA: This is about making a stand for the Pacific. You know? This is a peaceful, lets say a peaceful protest where we just wanted to make a stand and make a statement that, that it is time for actions now. You know, for the last 20 years or so forth years we have been always in negotiating, you know, in the international arena talking, talking about how we going to solve climate change, on how we can reduce the emissions rates from all those big polluters in the world but none of them, the developed countries, actually take it serious. So right now we have no other time, this is the time, as you can see we are actually making a stand because our, our islands, our beautiful islands will be the first islands to go under water if how we, emitting our, you know, our pollution in the air is not going to change. And as you know, that Australia is the biggest exporter for coal and coal is, you know, it is fossil fuel and this is the main cause of climate change.
DON WISEMAN: So in terms of a protest, what are you going to do?
MM: We thought of this as a, you know, bringing our people together and bringing our people together is to bring like, something that symbolise our livelihood. So we had a project that we carve traditional canoes on our island and in the same time we will also show our generation nowadays that, you know, that this is part of our culture and this is, you know, these are our values and principles. So we carved canoes and we are taking them to Australia so we can row them in a harbour to block the coal ship.
DW: Who is getting the canoes over there for you?
MM: The canoes is already sent over via ship. They are all already in Australia. So its just a matter of us the warriors getting there.
DW: How many canoes are there going to be on the water?
MM: So far as I know there is about eleven of us, eleven, eleven canoes or more. And we also have one of the traditional made canoes that it sail around the Pacific and also one boat from Hawaii.
DW: And the object is to stop the shipment of coal for one day, is that right?
MM: Yea for one day, yea for one day, you know these businesses don't like to get disturbed and if we could do this for one day and we make a stand and we make the news you know just to, its just to make that statement and showing that no matter how little we are we also matters you know we just matter just like any other and we also, this is a fight that it is not just us in Tokelau or us in Tuvalu or us in Kiribati, we might be the first one that goes down first with the impact of climate change but it is also affecting the whole wide world so we are joining the whole world with this fight.
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