A Chant for Our Warriors

Across the Pacific, relationships, like stories, are core to our understanding of the world. It weaves and holds many of us together, and reminds us that we are bound together, ever so intimately with the natural world. Therefore, any harm on creation is inevitably harm on us.

That truth has long been the foundation of our work, as the Pacific Climate Warriors. We are a diverse network of Pacific peoples world over, who are committed to building a Pacific that is secure, peaceful and prosperous.

We rally behind the mantra “we are not drowning, we are fighting.” The ideals behind this mantra allows us to retell the world stories about our people living on the frontlines of climate change. To shift it from one that only paints us as mere victims of climate change to one that recognises that while our cultures and identities face an existential threat from climate change, we are also actively drawing on our indigenous knowledge and time tested traditions to mitigate impacts of climate change and strengthen our resilience.

Since our inception, we have used traditionally built handmade canoes to blockade the largest coal port in the world. On the edge of the largest mine in Europe, we unfurled a large traditional masi (ngatu or tapa cloth) woven by women of Tonga that called on the world to End Fossil Fuels Now. We believe that real climate leadership means keeping fossil fuels in the ground and immediately transitioning to 100% community owned, renewable energy.

In this journey to reclaim our own narratives, we have been purposeful with the stories we tell the world about ourselves.

This journey has allowed us the gift of shaping stories of who we are, why we do what we do, and how we orient ourselves to oppressors threatening our autonomy and our island homes.

It has been, and will continue to be, a journey of us manifesting our own narratives.

Aesthetically, we have celebrated the natural world, using canoes, mats and masi. This storytelling series, focuses on masi. Masi is made from the bark of the mulberry tree. It is pounded into large sheets and stained with intricate designs depicting many stories across many cultures. It has clothed our people and adorned our homes for centuries.

We chose to work with masi for this storytelling series because there is a sacredness to it’s cohesiveness and connectedness. We find that the way masi falls off the skin of our people, is unlike anything else. It’s striking. Consensual. Symbiotic. It feels ancient in a space reimagined.

This cultural aesthetic is one of the many things that are key to our identity as Pacific Climate Warriors. As young Pacific peoples searching, navigating, reconciling, masi has been the fibre weaving the different parts of ourselves together. It’s a fundamental piece of our story as we create and nurture the energy we need to push towards the world we are co-creating.

Using storytelling, we have been able to weave together young people across the region, and the world, in order to create a collective sense of place, people and purpose.

We persevere to be the ancestors we believe our children deserve.

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