This is most true for the iTaukei in the islands of Lau because as Roko Sau of Totoya Roko Josefa Cinavilakeba explains, the islanders are reaping benefits from this age old art.
Speaking in the iTaukei language, Roko Josefa said the people of Fulaga were keeping the art of traditional boat-building and sailing well alive.
On a visit to the island, Roko Josefa asked the villagers why they continued to build the camakau – the traditional sailing vessel.
He said they told him it was because they could not afford a fraction of the price of fuel for outboard motors.
The villagers revealed that it was only when the big boats came and brought fuel to the islands could some outboard owners afford the price.
Roko Josefa said the Fulaga islanders have even noticed they catch more fish using the camakau than modern fibreglass boats with outboard engines.
He said the islanders believed this was because the camakau are quieter and do not alert the fish to its presence.
Roko Josefa works with the Pacific Blue Foundation, an organisation that emphasises sustainability at sea and on land.
The foundation is organising the Veitau Waqa – The Boat Lives – camakau races in Suva tomorrow in a bid to bring the art of traditional boat-building and racing to the wider population.
Students of the University of Australia doing masters degrees will be present to take notes on the camakau during the races.
Roko Josefa regards this international interest in the camakau as a sign that traditional boat-building is an art worth its weight in gold.
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