6 Mar 2018

Samoan village may become uninhabitable: 'It's heartbreaking'

6:52 am on 6 March 2018

Children in the village of Moata'a spend their time playing with turtles and swimming among the mangroves, but there are fears their playground may not be around for much longer.

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A boy in the seaside village of Moata'a near Apia in Samoa. Photo: RNZ / Mei Heron

The seaside village near Apia in Samoa was visited by a New Zealand delegation of business leaders and MPs yesterday, including Climate Change Minister James Shaw.

The trip is part of the Prime Minister's whirlwind tour as Jacinda Ardern kicks off what the government has called its "Pacific reset".

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Children playing among the mangroves in Moata'a. Photo: RNZ / Mei Heron

Ofeira Faasau has lived in Moata'a since she was a child. The walkway that connected the village now gets swamped during high tide, effectively cutting it off, she said.

The sad reality is if something isn't done, her future children may not be able to live in the village, she said.

"It's very heartbreaking because this is where our parents grew up, and now us. And the responsibility is now in our hands."

There were many ways New Zealand could help, she said.

"Make it easy for communities to tap into resources, financial resources, and also technical expertise because villages don't have access to that."

NZ PM Jacinda Ardern meets Samoa PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in her first Pacific Missions trip

Jacinda Ardern and Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi on the New Zealand Prime Minister's first Pacific Mission trip. Photo: Pacific Media Network

Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said rising sea levels were a big problem and climate change was one of the "biggest challenges for the world".

Ms Ardern said the issues were discussed in length during their meeting.

"There has been a focus particularly on adaptation … but there's always more that we can do.

"So that's why we're undertaking these kinds of conversations to find out from individual nations what would make a difference for them … and what we can take to the rest of the world," she said.

Ms Ardern has also pledged an extra $3 million to help in the aftermath of Cyclone Gita which hit last month, and assist Samoa build resilience to future weather events.

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