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Conservation benefit: Extension of an established 185-acre marine reserve as no-take for an additional 10 years

Community benefit: Construction of a Nakamal (chiefs’ meeting house)

Date Approved: 05.2009

The Province of Penama consists of three islands: Pentecost, Ambae, and Maewo, located north of the Vanuatu group. Pentecost is known for one of the most remarkable customs in all of Melanesia, the Naghol, where men make spectacular leaps from high towers built from tree trunks as a gift to the gods to ensure a bountiful yam harvest. The island is the most populated in the Northern Province. Thee people, however, continue to preserve their traditional way of life, where survival depends on subsistence farming and traditional fishing.

Towards the northern tip of Pentecost Island is Abwatuntora, one of the biggest communities in the area, under the leadership of paramount chief Edward Rau. Abwatuntora has a population of over 300, mostly adults who have a strong respect for its chiefly systems. In 1999, Chief Rau led efforts to preserve approximately 185 acres of their coastal fishing ground as a no-take marine reserve for 10 years. Since then the marine reserve has been respectfully observed, though it has received no government recognition.

The community’s traditional meeting house, known as the Nakamal, needs to be replaced. Seacology will fund the construction of a new meeting house as well as a water tank. In return, the community will extend the marine reserve for another 10 years.

Project Updates

June 2010

Kevin reports that there have been three community meetings, two church meetings, one local scout meeting and one provincial ward area meeting since the opening of the Nakamal. The MPA remains intact.

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December 2009

Field representative Kevin Tari attended the official opening of the meeting house on November 20. He reports that the building was successfully completed, including the bathroom and kitchen. The MPA signs were installed at the beachfront at both ends of the MPA in early December.

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October 2009

As of September 2009 all the materials have arrived at the site. The building is completed up to roof height however work has been temporarily suspended due to a lack of water. The MPA is intact and two signs are waiting to be installed once the chief decides on the best locations. As of October 2009 the building has been completed and the official opening will be held on November 13.

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August 2009

One water tank is in place. Shipment of the materials for the meeting house was delayed due to the shipping charter company being overloaded because of an independence celebration on July 30, but most materials had arrived by mid-August. The project site is currently being prepared by the project manager with foundation work to begin the last week of August.

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Full or partial funding for this project provided by Seacology UK.