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Mitiaro’s ‘Ant-man’ meets Hollywood’s Aquaman

Thursday 30 June 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Local, National

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Mitiaro’s ‘Ant-man’ meets Hollywood’s Aquaman
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 innovation forum.

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.