Aquaman star Jason Momoa meets Mitiaro marine biologist Antony Vavia at the United Nations Ocean Conference in Portugal. Photo: Supplied/22062728
Cook Islands’ Antony (Ant) Vavia shared a bit of Maori culture with Aquaman star Jason Momoa in Portugal this week.
Marine biologist Vavia, who hails from Mitiaro, is representing Cook Islands and New Zealand at the United Nations Ocean Conference. He is one of 132 youth ocean leaders taking part in the conference which concludes on July 1.
Movie star Momoa is the UN environment
programme’s advocate for life under water and spoke at the UN youth and
Vavia bumped into Momoa earlier this week and
the two performed a traditional Māori hongi to greet each other.
Vavia said only four
of the youth delegates were representing three Pacific Island countries and
most people had never heard of the Cook Islands.
“To have Jason Momoa turn up and represent
another Pacific Island nation was cool, and by him recognising and accepting to
be greeted with hongi was uplifting; not just because he's famous, but because
it felt homely.
“As a by-product, perhaps that action shook
observers - now they will know about the Pacific.”
The theme of the conference is: “Scaling up
ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14:
stocktaking, partnerships and solutions.”
Vavia, who is completing his PhD with the
Auckland University of Technology, has been studying local coral reef fisheries while also exploring
traditional knowledge in his research.