Ten high chiefs are among 57 artists, mainly women, from New Caledonia joining participants from Vanuatu at the Second Kalexpo festival taking place at the Vanuatu Kaljerol Senta (VKS) in Port Vila this week. The theme for the festival is: Women Cultural Exchange between Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

On Monday morning, about 500 people mainly women including members of the association of mothers at the Port Vila market, and Port Vila North Ward Woman Councilor Rose Pater among them, took part in a parade from Anchor Inn to Saralana Park where the Kalexpo festival was officially opened by the Acting Director of VKS, Richard Shing.

In his speech, Shing called for the people of Vanuatu and New Caledonia to learn their custom, look after their custom and pass it on down for future generations.

Curator of the National Museum of Vanuatu Kaitip Kami, who is a member of the Kalexpo Committee, explained that Kalexpo is a VKS project stemming from Vancalexpo, an association of members from both Vanuatu and New Caledonia with a constitution and registered with the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission. Kalexpo’s first festival was held in 2014 and Kami says it is now planned to make the festival an annual event. Youths are also involved in the activities of both the Vancalexpo association and Kalexpo festival.

“Life today is extremely challenging for young people and we engage them so they learn custom ways of doing things as a way of preserving traditional and custom knowledge for future generations.

“As part of the program women from New Caledonia are showcasing how they prepare food and they will also exhibit their artifacts including dresses, hats and mats at the National Archive building next to the National Museum,” Kami said.

During the day the delegates from New Caledonia and their colleagues from Vanuatu visit places of interest in Port Vila and in the evenings a program of activities are taking place at the venue in the National Museum compound.