11 Jun 2006

Hopes cultural site in Vanuatu will get World Heritage status soon.

8:22 am on 11 June 2006

There are hopes that the Roi Mata Domain in Vanuatu may become just the second World Heritage site in the Pacific Islands region at a meeting in Wellington next year.

The Domain, comprised of three sites are all connected with the life of Roi Mata, an ancestral chief of the people in the areas which include a settlement on Efate Island and two islands close by.

The head of the delegation for World Heritage New Zealand, the Ngati Tuwharetoa paramount chief, Tumu te Heuheu, visited Roi Mata this week and says he strongly backs the push for it to be listed.

It could be considered when the World Heritage Committee meets next year in Christchurch.

Tumu te Heuheu says the cultural significance of the application is the knowledge of the way Roi Mata and his people lived and that this tradition remains as the people continue to choose to live without such things as electricity.

"And it is not because they don't want it, it is because it helps them to understand and appreciate the values that belong to their old people. And if they changed any of the ways that they do things it would mean they would have to change a great deal of what they know to be traditional"