Our Ocean Our Identity
The seafaring Lapita people settled the islands of Melanesia more than 3,500 years ago. Since then, the ocean and its resources have been central to physical and spiritual wellbeing. In Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, the sea is a place of shared historical and cultural identity.
The islands are recognised as one of the world’s most culturally, linguistically and biologically diverse regions. While individually unique, thousands of kin groups are united in their customary knowledge of the sea. Ceremonies and rituals, bodily dress and adornment, canoe building and navigation, feasts and local shell currencies are intrinsically linked to the ocean.
These waters, however, face unprecedented challenges. Plastic pollution, industrial waste and ecological decline are just some of the pressing issues that threaten indigenous ways of life. A healthy ocean is imperative for livelihoods, food security and cultural resilience.
Pax Jakupa, Alvaro Sumaki Kuautonga and Lloyd Newton co-produced public murals with emerging artists in Port Moresby, Port Vila and Honiara, respectively. The murals incorporate local symbols, patterns and icons that communicate long-standing relationships with the sea and reinforce the need for global strategies of ocean conservation.
Jean Yves Bihu, Rapsin Bihu, Stanley Biriau, Pax Jakupa, Alvaro Sumaki Kuautonga, Jimmal Kuautonga, Marisha Kuautonga, Derrick Lendu, Allen Makana, Lloyd Newton, Walex Raeti, Siru Tana, George Tino, Susan Vivi, Georgina Woti