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Thursday, 31 March 2016

Fiji's traditional Uto Ni Yalo canoe delivers tonnes of relief supplies to cyclone-ravaged coastal town

Cyclone Winston, the most powerful storm to make landfall in the southern hemisphere, killed more than 40 people when it ravaged the Pacific nation. The Uto Ni Yalo Trust, which owns the traditional canoe, sailed into Levuka where houses, schools and roads were destroyed. "Levuka was one of the worst-hit maritime communities in the Fiji group post Cyclone Winston," Uto Ni Yalo Trust secretary Dwaii Qalovaki said."Our task was to carry two tonnes of relief supplies to the community of Baba." The Uto Ni Yalo, which uses large sails to navigate the seas, was part of a fleet of traditional canoes that embarked on a voyage from Cook Islands to Sydney to highlight the threat of climate change in 2014. Much like that epic voyage, the Uto Ni Yalo encountered difficulties with low wind conditions while sailing towards Levuka. But the sailors were prepared for such contingencies. "The Uto Ni Yalo is powered by nature, therefore we're a wind sail vessel," Mr Qalovaki said. "We had optimal sailing conditions right through until Friday morning, when we hit a bit of a dull spot out at sea, so we dropped our solar-powered propellers and motored into Levuka."