About michkwilson

679er, Fiji/Kiwi mother of 3, Photographer living in Vanuatu, loves to travel, coffee, Pandas, Dolphins, Orchids, Turtles...lusts after tattoos, body piercing, great music, sunsets, Kava and the Pacific way of life. I am Pacifika...

Taking it Back – Trip to Labasa/Savusavu, Fiji

Isn’t it funny how you can live in a country for most of your life and you just don’t get to travel to all the beautiful places it has to offer. I have been lucky working for a newspaper as a Photojournalist to experience the beauty of my homeland when i am sent out on assignments.

April 9th 2014 was the first opportunity for me to visit Labasa and Savusavu thanks to work. At the time i was steering the Photography team at the Fiji Times but with all my team on other assignments my eye and i were the only available ones for this trip so with work camera in hand plus my beloved Rocking Red (my personal Nikon D3200), I jumped on to a plane with our Chief of Staff for 2 days of picturesque beauty and untold stories.

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Coffee, Rocking Red and I

Labasa is a town in Fiji with a population of 27,949 at the most recent census held in 2007. Labasa is located in Macuata Province, in the north-eastern part of the island of Vanua Levu, and is the largest town on the island.

My first impression of Labasa town was it’s dusty and many of the buildings still sport signs from 2 possibly 3 decades ago (this is not actually new to me or Fiji….the same can be seen in the backstreets of Nadi, some buildings in the capital of Suva, Navua etc). It’s pretty much a one street town (again not new in Fiji) and by 7 in the evening…it’s like a ghost town.

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Labasa Town – main street

You tend to see some pretty wild, weird and wonderful things in small towns and not even 2 hours into our stay we came across this guy bizzing around on a contraption that you could probably describe as a handmade wheelchair…maybe?

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Wild Wheelie Dude of Labasa

After a short talk with him, details were taken down for a story and we bid him good bye. Of being the journalists we are we immediately dubbed him the Wild Wheelie Dude of Labasa and everyone of us secretly hoped he did some sort of wheelie in that cart as he zoomed down the pavement….at a snail’s pace LOL

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Just one wheelie….only one will be suffice

All in all a great time was had in Labasa….from drinking spring water straight out of the mountain enroute to Savusavu

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Ice cold and fresh! Spring water straight from the source at the mountain…it never runs dry apparently

to visiting Savusavu town (also a one street town)

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Beautiful Savusavu town

and stopping off at the beautiful Savai Island Resort and trekking the resort to see it’s beauty

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Team Fiji Times and i at Savai Island Resort

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I even got to play in the bushes

 

 

 

Taking It Back – Our lady Uto Ni Yalo

On January 14th 2014, the Vaka Moana, UTO NI YALO that sailed around the world with 6 other vakas during the Te Mana O Te Moana voyage was officially handed over to the Uto Ni Yalo Trust (UNYT) and the people of Fiji at Lautoka Wharf by Master Navigator Magnus.

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The Uto Ni Yalo before the cermony

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The Uto Ni Yalo before the cermony

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The Uto Ni Yalo before the cermony

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Traditional kava ceremony during the gifting of the Vaka

The historic occasion was a wonderful event and I’m so happy and proud to have been part of it and extremely excited to be a part of her new journey here in Fiji. At the time i was the  Secretary of the UTO NI YALO Trust (UNYT) and i was and still am extremely grateful to all the crew, family and friends of our lady Uto and of course the UNYT for opening their arms to me and including me into the wonderful Pacific Voyaging family.

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Crew member Filo places a Salusalu (flower necklace) on Master Navigator, Magnus

The whole concept of the gifting after the big voyage 2 years previously that our son got to be a part of and hooked our family into this fantastic world of traditional sailing, was to now go forth and continue reconnecting our cultures, advocating for clean oceans and to pass on the knowledge of Celestial navigation to the younger generations all while using the vakas in between islands as a means of transporting cargo proving that sustainable sea transportation was the better way to go in order to save our oceans.

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Happy that she belongs to us now

A tough task ahead you might say…some may say near impossible. To those i say nothing is impossible…besides i want my children’s children and their children and so on to enjoy the beauties of our oceans so why not.

Taking it back – Te Mana o Te Moana: Pacific Voyagers

Bare with me here guys, i’m going to take you all back in time for the next few blogs to catch up with today 🙂 Perhaps i’ll bore the shit out of you…or not…either way, it’s important to me regardless of whether you care or not LOL.

In 2011/2012 a fleet of seven traditional-style voyaging canoes (Vaka Moana) manned by a group of over 100 Pan-Pacific Islanders, who for the first time ever, sailed across the Pacific Ocean we all call home this side of the planet to carry a message of stewardship for the ocean. It may be interesting to note that each of the Vaka Moana are green vessels totally dependant on the wind and the sun and are based on the old Polynesian double hulled canoes our ancestors would use to sail between islands trading goods.

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The Vakas approach San Fransisco’s Golden Gate bridge during the voyage

The sailors many of them being first timers, ranged in ages and nationalities. The men and women were artists, fishermen, teachers, farmers, photographers etc. Some were life-long seaman and others as mentioned were getting their first taste of the open seas. Every single one of them shared one voice and one vision…to save our oceans.

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The fleet of 7 Vaka Moana

The fleet sailed from New Zealand to Hawaii, California to Cocos Islands, the Galapagos to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and more following the path of our sailing ancestors using traditional navigational skills and relying on the stars, the wind and wildlife as their guides to reconnect with theirs and other native cultures across the globe and to spread the word of looking after our oceans for the future generations.

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During the voyage

It is important to understand that Pacific Islanders have a deeply rooted connection to the land, to the ocean and to the environment. We do not make a distinction between the environment and culture – both are one and the same. The ocean connects families across the Pacific and for hundreds of years one tradition has laid the foundation for the cultures and lives on the islands….Ocean Voyaging.

So in 2012 as the fleet neared the end of their voyage, they hit Vanuatu soil and our Jedi#1 joined the Fijian Vaka the Uto Ni Yalo and sailed back to Fiji as crew at the age of 19. This first taste of sea life (i’ve been told he was sea sick for 2 days) for Zane would eventually tease my eldest son towards a life of a sailor.Something we are so very proud of as he now lives his Father and Mother’s dreams.

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The Jedi#1 Zane – Living the dreams of his mother & father

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Zane in his cabin which are in the hulls of the canoe

The Pacific Voyaging society advocates heavily for the oceans and it’s residents. Cleaner oceans, cleaner world….it’s simple really, if we keep polluting the oceans with plastic, balloons etc then eventually the oceans will die. The oceans die…..we die too….

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Crew of the Fijian vaka UTO NI YALO say hi to a visitor

Life Gets In The Way Sometimes

Hi guys,

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged or even updated my page…in fact the last post was a shared post in Jan of 2013 (WTF?) so i guess now is as good a time as any.

Since my last post a hell of a lot has happened from moving back to Vanuatu to work, moving the kiddos back to Vanuatu as well, going through a Category 5 Tropical Cyclone called Pam (that was shitloads of fun), our first Jedi joining the Pacific Voyagers again, happily discovering our second Jedi and the only girl child of our brood having a very good eye and a burning love of photography, also discovering our Jedi#3 has a strong set of vocal chords that range from Soprano to Bass despite being an asthma sufferer and the list just goes on and on.

Soooo, it’s good to be back and slowly by slowly I will try to make an effort to keep this going and give anyone out there that may be remotely interested in my way of life a taste of this Fijian Photographer Mama Bear living in Vanuatu and her loves and hates.

Love & light always

🙂