Stopover 01/3

From Maewan to Makatea: between education and discovery

14 December 2020

With the film “Makatea Vertical Adventure“, launched last December on the 10th, we reflect on the educational approach, initiated by the Maewan association towards the population of the small island of Makatea, lost in the heart of the Pacific, about both ecological awareness and the appreciation of the island’s breath-taking nature.

The Islands potential

This isolated Pacific island, eight hours by boat from Tahiti and inaccessible by plane. With no outsiders ever coming to the island, the children of Makatea have never had the opportunity to have outside contributors visit their school. Therefore, Maewan’s team set itself the goal of making these children and their parents aware of Makatea’s tremendous potential. With a team of professional athletes and a member of the ‘Water Family’, Maewan’s contributors, along with the schoolteacher, were able to set up an educational programme to introduce the young people of Makatea to the basics of ecology and ecotourism.

Following the closure of the last phosphate mines in the 1960s the island has been struggling to regain its economy. Using their many experiences gained throughout the world, the Maewan team identified the island’s exceptionally natural environment as ideal for development of eco- tourism that respects both people and nature.

Makatea’s potential is obvious: the beauty of its famous cliffs, the preservation of its natural environment and its unusual local biodiversity. All the Maewan experts: speleologists, professional climbers, and educators, were unanimous in their appreciation of the island’s beauty.

On the educational side, at school the Makatea children have been enabled to discover the water cycle and its importance to the island, thanks to the ‘Water Family’s’ workbooks, especially designed to help the children discover environmental themes. Water Management is a major priority for Makatea’s population as fresh water is scarce, so a correct water management programme is essential. By promoting good practice, the children have become aware of their individual responsibility in building a world that respects the environment while integrating the concept of sustainable development.

For the Makatea youngsters, this awareness has been created both from the themes dealt with in class and with the experiences they have experienced on their island, alongside the Maewan team.

To create a collective awareness

For this awakening of eco-citizen responsibility, the route employed was through intervention in the classroom: there is nothing like practice to raise awareness. The classroom sessions were interspersed with introductions to sports involving nature (climbing, diving, hiking, caving, slacklining) none of which ever before practised by these youngsters.

These outdoor outings represented essential moments to allow the children to integrate the concepts seen in class, but also to become aware of the full potential of their beautiful island. By becoming aware of their land’s resources, they can, and will continue to be able to, appropriate, protect and preserve them and, above all share them in a reasonable manner.

With the partnership of the teacher, the school programme and the Maewan team, the children wrote and performed a play, in front of the local population, about the resource protection of the island of Makatea. This is a huge source of pride for all the parents who have now become aware, through their children, not only of the potential of their island, but also the actions necessary to preserve Makatea’s incredible beauty.

Find the full version of the film Makatea Vertical Adventure : 


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