Bridging Western Science and Polynesian Tradition
Elders start to work with scientists on preserving the biodiversity of Mo‘orea
From inside an inflatable Zodiac bobbing in ‘Opunohu Bay, Papa Mape extends a brown weathered finger to the mountains rising just past Mo‘orea’s thin shoreline. Mape, an 84-year-old Tahitian fisherman, says he knows when to find certain fish in the lagoon near his village, Papetoai, by observing seasonal changes in the lush vegetation on the jagged peaks.
“You have to understand that the land and the ocean are one,” Mape explains through a translator. “Whatever you do on the land, the ocean suffers. Whatever you do in the ocean, the land suffers.”
Usually, Mape, a native of Mo‘orea, saves his ancient knowledge for those that understand his language, Tahitian. But he does offer up a few plums to the westerners in the