My superheroes

Have splurged on a set of capes for the kids, thought they'd get a kick out of them, and it's amazing what you can get shipped to Rurutu from amazon!

What's even more amazing is that after 5 minutes saving the planet, they decided to use the costumes as aprons for a cooking game, and later they became surgical scrubs for a hospital game. I love how imaginative they are!


School photos

It's already that time of year again - class photos, and now with three of 'em in school, my lei making skills are really put to the test. Here are my informal school portraits (P.S Amai's pink and lime green pyjama outfit was not my idea, it's the class attire!!!!).....



Meet noisette!

We have a new member of the gang, he's called noisette (hazelnut), and if he avoids being cuddled to death, he'll be our new guard dog. Poor old Maroro had a fatal road accident, during the school holidays, he really did like chasing cars too much. But I strongly suspect that this puppy, from our neighbors, is actually son of Maroro, hope he hasn't inherited the car chasing genes.


Facing Forty!

It's now the last year of my thirties, the upside Viriamu actually remembered to get me a birthday bouquet of flowers - miracles never cease (though he refused to join in with the cake and candles - fortunately I have three younger volunteers for that)! Not sure how I feel about my inescapable middle age, I'm fairly happy with who I am and where I'm going and what's not to love about these guys.......

......but still it seems awfully old. One thing I do know, we're definitely going to celebrate it next year!


Victory is ours!

Our much-anticipated horse race took place on April 5th.

There was also a fund-raising BBQ for our association - we sold over 300 plates of chicken and another 300 brochettes (kebabs). So it was a success.
There were only 7 horses running, due to a few injuries. The good news, Viriamu's horse coasted home easily winning first place, thereby saving our first prize for the kitty. The down side, Viriamu had put a younger lighter jockey on the horse - so he's admitting that his racing days are done!
Here are a few photos of the day taken by my sister-in-law.

The cart rides were still a big success and take a load of our very smart yellow t-shirts!


Rahui Nui no Tuhaa Pae - The Australs Marine Reserve Project

Next week there are a series of meetings in Tahiti to present a marine reserve project for the Austral Islands. It's a project proposed by Pew Charitable Trusts's Global Ocean Legacy Project. We've been involved in the process, with our Environment Association, Te Aru Ora, but also on a personal level as interested parties involved in the development of sustainable tourism here (I helped prepare a report on tourism and the marine environment as part of a broader scientific review) and as parents of children living in Rurutu. 
It's an ambitious project to protect 1 million km² of ocean (about a fifth of French Polynesia's exclusive economic zone) in a broader program aiming to help address the global fisheries crisis and protect the world's remaining stocks of fish, in particular tuna.

The Austral Islands were identified as a good place to protect, for several reasons, not least because these waters are diverse, isolated and more importantly relatively little exploited by commercial tuna boats from Tahiti, so it's the "least painful" option. In 2014 the local councils of the Austral Islands voted an act calling for the creation of a large marine reserve in the Australs, outside of traditionally fished zones (in this case outside a zone of 20 nautical miles around each inhabited island, where small tuna boats, pote'e marara fish). This 'blue halo' model protects the livelihoods of our small local fishermen and prevents larger commercial boats from over-exploiting the local resources, so in general it's a good solution for the inhabitants of Rurutu. The reserve is created by us here in French Polynesia, Pew provide assistance in creating, managing and enforcing the protected zone. They provide the tools, but the reserve remains French Polynesian, so we are the actors. This seems like conservation done the way it should be, what's not to like?

However, here in Rurutu it's a hot potato! Somewhere along the road the mayor of Rurutu suddenly changed his mind, and now staunchly opposes the idea, to the point that council members are warned not to participate in further meetings about the project. Different reasons are cited from hidden mineral deposits to future Rurutu tuna fleets, some even spread rumors that Pew were here prospecting for petrol, none of this really rings true to me. Those of us still behind the project are labelled as trouble-makers. I can't help feeling rather sad, not because I'm labelled as a trouble-maker (au contraire). Opposition to the project was to be expected, but the mayor's opposition does not represent the best interests of the inhabitants of Rurutu, maybe personal, political or economic interests, his or of other parties in French Polynesia or France, but not the regular average Rurutu! At least the other four austral islands' mayors remain behind the project, let's see how it is received in Tahiti this week.

We are unable to participate, this time, as we have our big horse race on the 5th. But we are there in spirit, and will be ready for the next round when it comes. The territory has pledged to preserve at least 20% of its ocean by 2020, so it's not over yet!