stories create value ::: 
The Dung Verei Festival 
Leweton Cultural Village, Banks Islands

Support needed for this year’s Dung Verei Cultural Festival

“Language is our identity. Language is our culture. Down deep in the ocean to the top of the mountains, language is our roots and connection. We have to understand our native language because that’s where our foundation is.”

Sandy Sur, Leweton Cultural Village

Dung Verei Vanuatu: GoFundMe 2021

There is an opportunity to support the ongoing cultural revival across the islands of Vanuatu by funding the Leweton Cultural Community’s work organizing the Dung Verei Festival (sound of the island), a local festival in Santo held the first weekend of October 2021. 

The festival brings together communities of the Torba Province and the Banks Islands in the North of Vanuatu. Vanuatu consists of many different island communities each with a unique wealth of kastom: stories, music, dance, food preparation and cultural practices such as carving, weaving and also the creation of local currencies. The festival is a real opportunity for creative demonstrations of cultural practices and for people to engage in dialogue and learning with other communities in a celebration of the many languages of the island.

The Go Fund Me is for folk who want to invest in community-rooted, transformative cultural work. A small investment of cash can be a massive contribution to this vital work with cultural heritage. 

Community Leader Sandy Sur is Manager of Leweton Cultural Experience and Women’s Water Music, based on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. Sandy has been working on the organization of the Dung Verei Festival for the last three years.

Sandy Sur (Leweton Cultural Experience) and Shelley Darling (Loving Waters, World Unity Week) will be speaking on June 24th about the event at Dung-Verei ~ Pacific Island Water Dreaming  

Project leader: Sandy Sur
sandy at lewetonculturalcommunity dot com

The Dung Verei Festival 

photo: Gina Kaltipli, Further Arts
Delly and Sarah discovered a vital connection to the continuing practice of shell money production in the Solomon Islands on thier first journey recording shell money interviews. They also found a kinship connections between the Gaua community and the Solomon Islands community that was confirmed by Chief Polwyn. 

To support these connections becoming more visible we applied for funding for a small group of people from Gaua, representives from Santo and also the Solomon Islands to a meeting on the revival of shell money at the Dung Verei Festival, held in conjunction with TORBA Day (Oct 1-2). The opportunity to support space for communities from the more remote island of Ureparapara - custodians of a slightly different lineage of shell money production - as well as others from Vanua Lava, and Mota Lava to communicate around Shell Money practices is invaluable.

October’s Dung Verei Festival is a local celebration of performance and traditional customary activities known locally as kastom, such as music, dance, craft and shell money practices and food preparation. It is recognised as a key community meeting and one of the best opportunities for community workshops.

This year Sandy Sur is working hard on the organisation of the festival and a media team - led by Vanuatu media practioners from Further Arts - attend the meeting to record stories and create media. An invitation was also made to a delegation from the Tulalip community in the North West Pacific and WISN based in Hawaii towards creative connection and community co-design of value networks, but this is dependent on funding.

Ambae Evacuation
photo: Gina Kaltiplei, Further Arts

Ambae Evacution Coverage 

Photographer Gina Kaltiplei (Further Arts) and Kate Genevieve (Special Advisory Member Further Arts) combine for an article for the Independent in the UK, with support from the whole team, particularly Thomas Dick and Dely Roy Nalo. 

“ On Vanuatu, the activity of Manaro Vui, the volcano on the island of Ambae is raising the possibility of a wholesale evacuation of the island’s entire population from the island.

This is not only raising urgent questions of how these people could be re-located, housed and fed. It is also... raising the question of how the people of an island nation can preserve their culture when no longer living on the geographical area which for so long defined it.

Vanuatu is an island country where 280,000 people live and is made up of an archipelago of 83 islands. The Ambae residents number around 10,000. The activity of the Manaro volcano has produced thick ash and gas over the island, destroying crops and contaminating water supplies.