First-ever Traditional Boat Builder’s Regional Workshop in the Pacific  

The Pacific Traditional Boat Builder’s Regional Workshop that was held on the 15th and 16th of February featured more than 50 participants across the two days from more than 6 contributing countries organized by the Sustainable Sea Transport Initiative (SSTI).  

The Workshop was an opportunity for the traditional boat builders to understand their integral part in the maritime industry and having the representation through the industry association.  

President of SSTI Carl Probert said that the workshop was a more concerted effort to have regional participation and partnership as meetings as such were generally done in isolation, in country zones and away from the rest of the maritime industry.  

“The traditional maritime and commercial maritime do not have a forum that provides an opportunity to meet and connect especially at a regional level, when many of their challenges are common,” Probert said.  

“Our objective was that the participants were able to have a forum where they could share experiences and practices among boat builders in the Pacific and discuss common challenges and ways to overcome them,” he added.  

Boatbuilders Workshop WAM © GIZ, Suewellynn Johannes

Countries that were present and connected virtually included Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, and some small national groups joined as a collective in their areas to participate together like in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and Fiji.  

The organizers believed that this was the first of its kind focusing on the sector of traditional boat building at the regional level and has indeed raised a high level of interest from boat builders across the Pacific.  

“At SSTI, we are strong proponents of the “Pacific Way”, the virtue of talking through issues together. Some of these boat builders and voyagers know each other already, interact one-to-one, sometime even on a regular basis; but not as a group. We believe it is important that the sector’s players realize that they are, in fact, representing a solid group of like-minded organizations and individuals, with ideas that can help others and the group, and foster the sector’s development,” Probert said.  

One of the participants, Suewellyn Langrine from the Republic of the Marshall Islands said that the Regional Boat Building Workshop had focused on sharing of sustainable ideas of boatbuilding whether it be modern or traditional.  

Boatbuilders Workshop Makayla Halter ©GIZ, Biutaka Kacimaiwai

“It’s encouraging to know that there are more women in the region who are taking part in the initiating and voicing about their experience in the maritime sector. I say this because as a Marshallese woman, although there is a slow change, it is still a challenge for women who show interest in the maritime sector simply because of their gender and the culture,” Langrine said.  

The contributions from the boat builders in the region, as well as navigators, has expanded perspectives for traditional boatbuilding in the 21st century.  

This is to include developing a shared and regional network for canoe building, and the dedication to support climate friendly maritime transport solutions in the region.  

The Pacific Traditional Boat Builder’s Regional Workshop was facilitated and organized by the Sustainable Sea Transport Initiative in Partnership with GIZ Pacific’s Low Carbon Sea Transport Project based in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. 

©GIZ_Berlin Philippo
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