Island of Hope

The ‘Island of Hope’ combines Pacific cosmology, Christian theology and critiques of globalisation and involves imagery of a navigational quest towards sustainable livelihoods epitomised by the symbolic importance of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Hōkūleʻa craft. These ideas were strikingly evident at the 2014 UN SIDS conference which launched the SAMOA Pathway outcome agreement – international partnerships as paddlers under Pacific captaincy – as ‘a great Samoan Va’a’ double-hulled voyaging canoe, and were equally forceful at the 2017 COP23 climate conference in Bonn which framed a shared predicament ‘We are all in the same canoe’.

‘“The Island of Hope” is life-centred, affirming the very soul of the Pacific Islanders. The concepts of whenua, fenua, enua, vanua 5 all mean that the land is the people’s identity, life and soul. Land is people, resources, cultures, beliefs, spirituality, languages, social systems, and the sea. The practical outcome of this understanding is communitarian sharing and distribution of resources with the absence of the selfish pursuit of wealth. While Western economics revolve around profit and economic growth, the traditional economies of the Pacific are concerned with people and the total quality of their lives; caring and concern for others within the extended families and compassion for all people, especially for the sick and elderly are values of the communities; respect, hospitality, generosity, and forgiveness are other marks of the traditional communities. Nobody is excluded.’ (World Council of Churches 2001)