'Chocolate Voyage' from Suva to Wellington via Bouganville
A pile of cocoa beans and a twin-hull canoe will be sailed from Fiji to New Zealand using traditional Fijian seafaring techniques.
A pile of cocoa beans and a twin-hull canoe will be sailed from Fiji to Papua New Guinea and then to New Zealand using traditional Fijian seafaring techniques.
The canoe has left Suva on its way to Bougainville, where it will pick up a one-tonne shipment of cocoa beans from local farmers and then deliver them to an artisan chocolate producer in Wellington.
The secretary of the Utoni Yalo Trust, Dwain Qalovaki told Guyon Espiner the trip will take two months.
DWAIN QALOVAKI: We will be transporting the beans via wind powered vessels down to New Zealand. The Utoni Yalo is a double hulled canoe that's about 22 metres in length and is powered solely by nature. One of the key elements that make the Utoni Yalo so interesting is the fact that the design is a traditional design.
GUYON ESPINER: And what sort of journey is this, how long will it take you?
DQ: In total from Fiji down to Vanuatu, onwards to Bougainville, Wellington, we intend to stop at least four locations along the New Zealand coast line before arriving back in Fiji, It will take us a total of two months.
GE: Wow, so this is a big big trip but I guess there's quite a lot at stake here, you're killing two birds with one stone in a way aren't you, trying to revive some of these navigational techniques and some of these seafaring abilities and also helping out I guess in a sort of a fair trade way in terms of the local cocoa farmers in Bougainville.
DQ: Well for the past five years that Utoni Yalo has been in operation, the key focus has been on growing the number of Fijians that are more familiar with our traditional navigation, boat building and sailing. At this juncture we feel that we're at a place where we're ready to advance sustainable sea transport conversations in the region and this if our first foray into it. Having said that one of the key things that we're trying to get out of this is definitely continue to upskill our own Fijian crew as well as test waters with these sort of ventures that first of all, align with what we're trying to achieve here in the Pacific and we're also really excited about this partnership with the Wellington Chocolate Factory because they also believe in the shared vision of doing things green and more sustainably.
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