June 30, 2014 – Since our departure from home 32 days ago, we have spent 18 days at sea and 14 days on land voyaging between 3 Pacific island groups. Each passing moment molds our characters, strengthens our spirits, and guides our lifelong journeys. Here in Paea, Tahiti, we find ourselves hiking 10 kilometers literally in the footsteps of our ancestors across weathered river rocks and icy streams as the sweat slowly drips down our backs.
Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia crew and family joined members of the Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie (SOP Manu) for a day that will be forever etched in our minds and hearts. The local NGO ” SOP Manu” took us on a learning journey to care for the critically endangered ‘ōmamāʻo or Tahiti monarch (scientific name Pomarea nigra). Less than 50 adult birds survive, only on Tahiti island and nowhere else. The main threat is nest predation by black rats, as well as bird species introduced such as the Indian mynah, swamp harrier, and red-vented bulbul. The highly invasive plants miconia and tulip tree modify their habitat, and we spent a large portion of the day protecting the Tahiti monarch by cutting down groves of miconia.
The crew spent a large portion of the day protecting the Tahiti monarch by cutting down groves of miconia.
One of the goals of SOP Manu is to encourage the rising generation to step outside the four walls of the classroom and make real world connections for deeper, meaningful, and contextualized learning. According to Inanui Brodien, SOP Manu Education Specialist, schoolchildren come to visit on a weekly basis. She says, “Until you see it, you can’t protect it. The land is for the children. They must understand that mālama honua is not something outside of you, it is already in you.”
We finally arrive at the waterfall to the harmonious melodies of the Tahiti monarch. They welcome us to their home, invite us to fill our water bottles with fresh water from the mountain fountains, and echo and confirm Inanui’s words. To mālama honua, we must reach inside ourselves to find our source. As we do, we renew hope for the Tahiti monarch and our Island Earth.