My Tree, My Aiga

More than 100 trees of various indigenous species were planted by the PTC community on May 31 to support the greater effort of growing biodiversity and re-clothing the land with trees.

The tree planting exercise is one of several coordinated by the Earth Justice Advocacy Committee of the College set up this year to promote earth justice principles within its community.

A few days earlier the EJA committee hosted the PTC community to a presentation on the different types and value of trees growing in the College compound.

Celebrating the value of a tree beyond its economic value was really the emphasis of the tree planting exercise. Like many indigenous communities around the world, Pacific Islanders value trees for traditional and cultural reasons.

 A special tanoa is made from a certain vesi tree; scented wood is mixed with oil and used for traditional dances, medicine and even food. Trees also form the forests that the birds and other creatures of totemic value call home.

President of PTC’s Student Body Association Reverend Isoa Vatanitawake, who is pursuing his Master’s degree in Biblical Studies and hails from Kadavu province in Fiji, said the people from his tribe have a tree, bird and fish as totems. His tree is the Dakua or the Pacific Kauri.

Reverend Isoa Vatanitawake on the right with a Ministry of Forestry official.

PTC Principal Rev. Dr. Upolu Luma Va’ai said planting trees is a way of reconnecting with the earth, from where we come from.

‘We need to go back to that because the earth is our mataqali, our aiga,’ Rev. Dr. Va’ai told the PTC community, ready with their digging forks and spades at the Fale.

‘We are really thankful to the Forestry ministry for the support in this activity.’

Director of Reforestation for the Ministry of Forests Sakeasi Rokovucago and his team shared the drive to plant four million trees in four years as a measure against climate change.

They highlighted the ecosystem benefits trees provide like stopping soil erosion, water filtration, carbon and greenhouse gases sequestration.

Tree seedlings were provided by the Forestry team and from the private nursery of Suliana Moce, the College Library Assistant.

Trees varieties that were planted include Tamanu or the Calophyllum inophyllum,, Dakua (Pacific Kauri), Vesi, Kausivisivi and some fruit tree species like Dawa, Avocado, Vutu and Kavika.

Each PTC family is responsible for the tree they planted.