A good ancestor to future generations
Senimili Dainaki hails from Saqani Village in Cakaudrove Province, on Fiji’s second-largest island Vanua Levu.
The village’s low-slung location along Natewa Bay is picturesque, but rising seas have led to painful discussions within the Saqani tribe about the possibility of relocating into the highlands.
For Senimili, connections to the environment and connections to her ancestors are intricately linked:
“My elders taught me to always think of others and not only about me. They taught me to take care of the marine environment for the sake of those who depend on it.
A good elder is one who have good values in all aspects of their life and teaching the younger people of the importance of these values.
Elders would caution children about sharks in the sea. That curiosity and the willingness to explore what is out there in the ocean made me take up marine science.
What I love most in nature is the serenity and peacefulness it provides, and seeing birds, insects and other species interact. It’s a place for me to sit down and observe, appreciate what’s there. Waterfalls, ocean - when we go out diving, I see it as one place where I can think and just see what is in front of me and shuts out the hustle and bustle of life.
Now we see the decreasing in fish stocks, coral bleaching, over the years there’s a lot of changes – less diversity in the ocean due to climate change. We see this when we go out into the sea. In particular on coral reefs, we see a lot of bleaching. We see fishing lines, rods, and handlines in the ocean. Sometimes we see fishing lines wrapped around the corals. We see a lot of plastics as well in the ocean. At times we see around Beqa lagoon fishing lines being wrapped around the corals and plastics that are floating on the surface.
The sea is part of our livelihood and what elders usually protects and advocate for. In my village when I was young before the sun rise, my relatives go out to sea for fishing. They go out in groups to gather fish. I also go out with them. They are very good in locating where the fish are located and at what time of the day. They only fish for what is needed for the day and this is important in keeping fish stocks healthy.
In the future I would like to see a lot of youths taking part in conservation activities, to build groups and clusters and work together to protect fishes that are endangered and threatened.
We should be action oriented rather than being passive. Before, we saw just fish as food, and didn’t really connect what’s their role in the marine ecosystem. My hope is for youths to actively participate in village conservation activities.
The work I do now is in conservation, restoration of nature, replanting mangroves, replanting forests, beach clean-ups, building nurseries for more mangrove restoration. We are creating awareness on the area of marine environment with communities. As someone who cares for the environment, I will continue to be a good role model to others.
My ancestors are very important to me. they are the ones who taught us at a very young age about the sea, ocean, nature and our relationship with them and how to use it sustainably.
-Text by: Vatimosi Delailovu, Andrea Egan and Vineil Narayan.
Topic: Climate change (general)
Photo or video credit: UNDP Pacific Office, Reef Explorer Fiji, UNDP PNG
Text Credit: Senimili Dainaki
Date : 11 August 2022