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This Is Our Home band perform 'E Papa Waiari' with Coldplay to 65,000 people in Lyon, France.

This Is Our Home band perform 'E Papa Waiari' with Coldplay to 65,000 people in Lyon, France.

Photo/Joe Moeono-Kolio/Facebook


‘This Is Our Home’

Pacific voices ring out in France as climate warriors wow crowds at a Coldplay concert.

A dream to blend Pacific environmental activism and music became a reality for a group of indigenous artists in Lyon, France, last week.

The project is called This Is Our Home, a climate justice campaign of indigenous artists, musicians, and storytellers who are advocating for a fossil fuel-free future for the Pacific.

Their message was massively amplified in sharing the stage with the iconic British rock band Coldplay.

Junior Soqeta, Sione Pole, Lahi Vaoese, and Saia Williams-Folau proudly wore their measina in front of 65,000 people at the Groupama Stadium.

Climate change activist Suluafi Brianna Fruean was also there and says it all happened so fast after the band sang for Coldplay’s music producer Brian Eno.

“We were in London with Pacific Island musicians from New Zealand and some from Australia. We performed at Brian Eno’s studio and Brian Eno took a video of the boys, the band, singing ‘E Papa’ and sent it to Chris Martin.

“And Chris Martin watched it and said, ‘we have a show in France tomorrow, how can I get them there?’”

‘E Papa Waiari’ is a well-known Māori song originating from the Whangānui region becoming a popular anthem among Pacific musicians such as Herbs and Fiji.

Fruean says even though they’re on the other side of the world, the band chose to stay true to its Pacific music roots, agreeing with Pacific Mornings host Will Terite that the whole experience was “pretty unreal”.

“Coldplay, an incredible band. But also just the crew around them are so great in creating this immersive experience. So to be a part of it was truly like a real privilege.

“I don’t sing, I wish I could sing but to watch talented musicians just shine in their light and also feel really comfortable. They were in London, they could have sang any other song but they wanted to sing our Pacific music and I feel like the spirit just shone through.”

Community for climate justice

The climate project supports the Pacific’s call to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, initiated by Vanuatu at the United Nations General Assembly in September, 2022.

Just over a month later at Cop27 in Egypt, Tuvalu echoed the need for Pacific unity in pushing for global phase-out of fossil fuels.

Fruean says bureaucratic voices tend to get all the air time in climate issues and so their role was to ensure there was grassroots connection.

“There's always been a very strong element of diplomacy, of policy and climate politics. But This Is Our Home, it was a way to take our community on the journey with us because we felt like there was a disconnect.

“We were talking about this huge treaty that was gonna be an international binding agreement, hopefully one day, but none of our communities knew about it.”

Fruean says what better way to connect with people than through music.

For nearly two years, the collective have visited various Pacific Islands championing community voices in climate decision making spaces like the Treaty Pacific Strategy Retreat that was held in Nadi earlier this year.

This Is Our Home attended the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture in Hawai’i last month, where they engaged in talanoa around key issues affecting the region including security, cultural preservation, and the climate crisis.

All of this amalgamated to the incredible moment they shared with the world their uplifting and moving performance with Coldplay.

Using the power of the arts, culture, poetry and music to create change and compelling narratives, weaving together traditional forms with modern and digital storytelling, the group will continue to be agents of change.

According to the band’s campaign director Joe Moeono-Kolio, after the whirlwind first half of the year, they’re back in Aotearoa to “rest and recover” before touring the United States, South America, and the Pacific from August to December.