Editor’s note: Today’s post is the fourth in our Sea the Future series offering expert insight into the latest oceans news. The topic: connecting with coastal communities using a unique approach.

Traveling aboard the Gaualofa, Samoa’s traditional double-hulled voyaging canoe, a team of voyaging and environmental experts spent 12 days sailing around the islands of Samoa holding outdoor screenings of Disney’s “Moana.” They were completing a pilot campaign for marine education in the Pacific Islands that used the film’s central themes of ocean conservation and Polynesian culture to connect with children and adults alike.

Human Nature sat down with Schannel “Sagele” van Dijken, Conservation International’s (CI) Pacific Islands marine program director and Samoa country program lead, to discuss the trip. Watch the exclusive video about the trip above.

Question: You’ve taken trips on traditional voyaging canoes before to raise awareness about Samoan and Polynesian culture and its impact on ocean conservation. How was this trip different?

Answer: In Samoa, this campaign was called “Sa Moana Folauga – Puipui Malu mai Mauga I Moana.” Translated, it means “Sacred Ocean Voyage” a journey to protect the environment we’re guardians of, from mountain top (mauga) to the blue ocean (moana), and everything in between.

The goal of this trip was to deliver Disney’s “Moana” a Pacific story of empowerment, voyaging and connecting with one’s culture and the natural world to coastal villages throughout Samoa that don’t have access to cinemas. The film screenings served as a launching pad for discussions around critical marine issues coastal communities are facing.

By harnessing the cultural power of our very own voyaging canoe, the Gaualofa which translates “to do or act with love” to deliver this movie that highlights our culture’s history of resource protection, in combination with workshops that highlight the importance of ocean conservation and responsible resource use, we were able to approach conservation with these communities in a whole new way.

The Samoan crew of the Gaualofa dances on the shore.
The Samoan crew of the Gaualofa dances on the shore. (©…