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PIFS receives cultural items from Cook Islands and Palau

PIFS receives cultural items from Cook Islands and Palau

16th August 2011

The governments of the Cook Islands and Palau have presented cultural items to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to mark the 40th anniversary of the Pacific Islands Forum this year.

The gift from the Cook Islands is a storyboard wall carving and a dugong wooden statue from Palau. The two items, installed inside the Forum Secretariat Conference Centre in Suva, were unveiled by Heads of Delegation from both countries at the Pacific Plan Action Committee meeting today.

“To mark the 40th anniversary of the Forum, the Secretariat has embarked on a programme of activities to celebrate the region’s development to date and to reflect on the future of the region and various challenges it faces as it moves forward,” said Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum.

“The Secretariat would like to thank the governments of the Cook Islands and Palau for their gifts to mark the Forum’s 40th anniversary showing their peoples culture as part of the diverse cultures within the Forum family.

”Before unveiling his government’s gift of the storyboard, the Cook Islands Head of Delegation to the PPAC meeting, Mr Carl Hunter said: “The storyboard wall carving made from native hardwood depicts the historic migration of their our ancestors on the seven vaka that departed from Avana passage in the district of Ngatangiia, in Rarotonga in 1350 AD. It symbolizes the seafaring nature of the peoples of the Pacific.”

In explaining his government’s gift, the Head of the Palau delegation, Mr Jeffrey Antol said: “The dugong is a very important aspect of our culture. In the olden days, a dugong vertebrae was worn as jewelry by men of high ranking clan – mostly chiefs, and dugong meat was considered of highest value.”

“Today Palau has one of the most isolated dugong populations in the world and being a conservation economy, it has taken extra means to preserve such essential sea creatures by enacting legislation to prohibit the killing or possession of dugong in any way.”

Mr Antol said the gift of the cultural item symbolizes appreciation for the exceptional work the Forum and its Secretariat has done for Palau and its people.

ENDS

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