Port Vila is the economic heart and capital of Vanuatu. Jobs, tourism, education and related industries continue to draw a steady stream of migrants from the outer islands.
For this reason the government of Vanuatu has given the outer islands parcels of land where they can set up satellite villages. Mataso’s village is located in Hollen, a district situated three kilometres from the centre of town. A population of 200 people live there, in contrast, on the island of Mataso there are only about 60 people living permanently. In many ways this makes Hollen Village the centre of Mataso life, since the diaspora has grown in size and importance to become the dominant way of life for Mataso.
Contact between Hollen and Mataso occurs almost exlusively by sea. Until recently only cargo ships regularly serviced contact between the outer islands and Port Vila. Although the communities have remained intimately connected, until recently a lack of consistent transport severly hindered travel.
After the last election in 2004, and vigorous campaigning, the island recieved a boat from the government. This vessel now services a route from North Efate to the island and in turn has lead to increased travel between Hollen and the home island.
There are now many people from Mataso who have grown up in Hollen and only visit the island for vacation or other special occassions. For instance, a popular time to visit is the yearly Mataso festival celebrating the historical fact that Mataso was the first island to decide not to eat a missionary get date etc…. Christianity then spread and cannibalism was slowly brought to a halt in Vanuatu.
Socially, Hollen functions the same way as the island with seven vice chiefs and one head chief, all elected for four year terms. Everyone living in the village is socially and economically tied to Mataso.
The important point is that this young generation of Mataso are different than the older generation in way that is unprecedented in Mataso history. While they may lack some of the basic skills that the older generation of Mataso take for granted these city kids also possess other skills that growing up in an urban environment provide. There is much laughter when the city kids come out to the island to participate in outrigger canoe races only to fail at this notoriously difficult skill.
The group of young artists that we are working with are a cross section, some have grown up on the island and some in Vila, they are however all of Mataso.