A contingent of iwi leaders is in Abu Dhabi for the Cop28 conference to present Hinemoana Halo, an initiative aimed at protecting the migratory whale corridors around the world.
“We have actively participated together with the global leaders in discussions on matters crucial to us,” Hinemoana Halo co-chair Aperahama Edwards says.
Māori and Pacific leaders are presenting Hinemoana Halo at the global forum as a sustainable option, for marine eco-systems, and have collated iwi initiatives for the project.
“The Māori voice needs to be heard in these international gatherings, not only representing the perspectives of the Māori people of Aotearoa, but also the indigenous peoples of the wider Pacific,” Edwards says.
Conservation International Aotearoa vice-president Mere Takoko is also attending the forum in the UAE and she says with climate change an evolving issue globally it’s time to make a change.
“With the ocean overheating at record levels, pressure is growing on Cop leaders to embrace indigenous values by backing nature as a viable and sustainable solution before it’s too late for the whale and the world.”
Takoko says the idea of Hinemoana Halo not only benefits now but also the future of marine coasts and wildlife: “Under the Hinemoana Halo model, organisations or individuals looking to reduce their carbon footprint will buy nature credits in the fund, which will be invested to restore biodiversity and create more protected oceans capes.”
Sāmoan female navigator Fealofani Bruun says climate change concerns such as acidity in the oceans, “We’re trying to see how the populations of these whales, not just whales but the other migratory species that we share spaces with, we share oceans with along the way.”
Indigenous people across the Pacific have begun monitoring and gathering data for the future survival of the whales, and further ensuring the protection of the marine ecosystem.
“While on this voyage with Hinemoana Halo, we’re hoping to monitor the whales while they’re migrating as well as ensuring that they’re able to come back in droves,” Bruun says.
With the support of Kīngi Tūheitia, the initiative has also attracted the interest of royals and billionaires, such as King Charles and Sir Richard Branson.
“We’re happy thus far to gain some financial support for the initiative. Because the outcomes are not just for us in this generation but will continue for our descendants, ultimately, for the environment, and our ancestral connection to it,” Edwards says.