Vava'u Environmental Protection Association

Fakamuna- An interview with nQako Concepts.

Story and photos by Aneira Hasson….

“I chose this design based on what Tongan’s call ‘tauhi vā’, which is the idea of special awareness. The coconut leaves of the structure are bound – similar to how a traditional Tongan house would have been – and I just wanted to have fun with it, play around, see if what kind of structure I could make. I didn’t want it to be a house or a roof, I wanted it to be something fun.

Another factor in the design was the idea of ‘fakamuna’, or child’s play. The idea of fakamuna was again, not to create a shelter or a conventional structure, but to instead create the idea of being under a tree.


I didn’t want to put the leaves on so that they would create a shelter from the rain or the sun, I wanted the leaves to hang the same way they would from a tree and really give the sense that you were under a tree. I wanted to take these leaves that often would just be discarded, and give them value and purpose, subverting the usual way you                                                                                                              see rubbish, reinventing it.


A big thanks to VEPA for trusting me to create this. Fakamuna in Tonga is undervalued. In reality, no one would have ever gotten to these islands in the first place if someone didn’t imagine it. You have to dream. Allowing me to renovate the space allowed me to imagine, to dream, to have fun with what this shelter could be.




It’s also a way to show the staff that they too can be creative and dream, continue to look at things in different ways.”



Find out more about Nqako Concepts by following them on Instagram @nQakoconcepts or visit their shop located in the Guttenbeil Plazza in Neiafu…….

A Plastic Tail

VEPA and the Ocean Ambassadors are joining forces to raise funds to recycle the plastics on our beaches and coastal areas.

Fundraising Target: US$5,000

The funds collected will enable us to

  1. Build the Plastic Shredder machine
  2. Build the Plastics Compressor machine
  3. Build the Injection machine
  4. Support plastics collection by purchasing from the communities
  5. Creating the moulds for the pendants
  6. Making the “Plastic Tails”
  7. Shipping and delivery (ps. we will be planting trees and mangroves to offset the carbon on your behalf!)

Donate with PayPal


As with any small island state, waste management practices are an ongoing and lengthy process that often end with low results that benefit the environment and habitats whilst supporting and implementing low cost initiatives that are in line with the economic status of the island group.

Recycling and reducing the waste remains an issue, in part due to a lack of infrastructure and resources to deal with the waste products. Tonga is heavily-reliant on imported products for food and economic development and has no main manufacturing processes within the country.


This means that every product that comes in stays here, with low ability of internally recycling and reducing the waste. Economically, recycling has been a low impact industry due to the high financial costs to ship the recycled products off the island whilst maintaining a profitable business.

Precious Plastics have free designs for machines that can be used to recycle plastics into useable products.

As whales and other marine life are such essential creatures in Tonga both culturally and economically, the project would create wearable items that are created through the plastics collected by community members.

Community groups and schools would benefit economically by being paid for the plastic collection, this money would come from the crowd funding of the pendants.

If you are a business based in Tonga that would like to sponsor this project please contact us at 

Cultural Food Preperation


Locally caught fish are sold at the market in Neiafu. Photo © Davey Kline 2017

Coastal fisheries are critically important to community livelihoods and reef habitat health. Programs such as community managed reefs (SMAs) are being developed to provide benefits to both biodiversity and livelihoods.

In Tonga, many communities still practice traditional food preservation methods; in part due to limited electricity sources to freeze or refrigerate produce especially on the outer islands.


Fish can be either dried, smoked on a fire or salted. © Davey Kline 2017

Fish can be preserved and cooked in a variety of ways including smoked over a fire, dried in the sun or salted.

When smoked over a fire, the fish becomes crispy and can be preserved for between a week to two weeks, at which time it can be boiled with coconut milk and onions. The smoking process can take up to a two weeks to complete.

Salted fish, allow for the families to store fish for 3 to 4 days, prior to salting the scales and innards of the fish are removed and the fish is covered with salt both inside and out and then stored in a sealed container.


Dried octopus on display at the agriculture show. Photo © Davey Kline 2017


Sun drying includes both octopus and fish, octopus are a favoured reef creature for local consumption. The sun drying process can be time consuming. Once the octopus or fish are cleaned, they are hung on sticks and left to dry for between a few weeks to a month.

Once they are dried, they are singed over a fire to kill any insect eggs such as flies.

The octopus or fish can then be eaten or stored for future meals. Dried octopus and fish can be eaten directly (kind of like jerky!).



Supporting sustainable ocean programs is a way of supporting traditional practices and livelihoods. Healthy oceans provide many benefits to communities both economically and for subsistence use.

To find out more about our support and efforts for sustainable ocean programs visit Vava’u Ocean Initiative.


Exploring the marine resources of Tonga

In May of 2017, a team of international and national marine researchers joined together on board the Yacht Plan b, through the Waitt Institute, to survey the near-shore marine habitats of Ha’apai and Vava’u for the Vava’u Ocean Initiative.

The marine surveys included coral cover, fish diversity and biomass and mobile invertebrates such as sea cucumbers, clams, lobster and more. The data collected is used to support community managed fisheries programs called Special Management Areas (SMAs) alongside proposed conservation areas (MPAs) on uninhabited islands.

Photos © Joe Lepore 2017

Coral reef habitats and marine species are threatened by a myriad of impacts including over fishing, pollution, natural and invasive predators and climate change. Programs such as SMAs and MPAs are a management practice to conserve biodiversity and increase marine resources to support sustainable livelihoods and economic development.

Other practices to support sustainable and healthy oceans are:

  • Reducing single use plastics including shopping bags and water bottles
  • Reducing land based run off and pesticide pollution
  • Supporting sustainable fisheries and fishing practices
  • Do not purchase marine souveneirs such as black coral, Triton trumpet shells and turtle shells


Upcoming Events…..

5th June – World Environment Day 

Our activity includes a workshop over tea and cakes for womes groups on reducing plastic bags by creating tshirt shopping bags.

8th June – World Oceans Day

Its a busy week! This year we will celebrate on the 9th June with a Plog and Sausage Sizzle. Join us in Fancy Dress and win some prizes. More information is on vavauenviro

13th July – Agriculture Show

The fun and the madness begins – check back soon for more details.