Photo Spread: New Caledonia
Without a doubt, New Caledonia is unique to this world in many regards. This archipelago has an incredibly diverse ecology and landscape- it is home to one of the largest lagoons in the world, and the mountains provide incredible hiking opportunities. The biodiversity of the island is extraordinary, and from the vast ocean to the dry rainforests, the elements are incorporated into the daily lives of many. I find that the way the people interact with the environment here to be extremely unique, especially among those born on the island, and those who are otherwise significantly rooted to it.
New Caledonia’s capital city of Nouméa serves as a taste of France in the middle of the South Pacific. The unique location and properties of the French Territory, however, also involve many complexities, as can be seen in the island’s often turbulent history and likely turbulent future. The country was annexed by France in 1853, serving as a military base for the United States during World War II, and now contains about a quarter of the world’s nickel reserves; these are all factors that have contributed to rising political, economic, and cultural tensions regarding the fate of New Caledonia’s independence and overall position in the world. The vote for independence will be held in November 2018, likely bringing with it many uncertainties.
My family has lived in New Caledonia for quite a few years, but the complexities introduced by these ongoing political conditions are not ones I can grasp completely. As such, I do not think either my words or my pictures can fully capture the island’s current reality. However, while I am unable to experience New Caledonia in the way that those raised here can, I do see remarkable aspects of life here that I do not often see in the United States. With that said, I hope my pictures can at least begin to capture this colorful environment and the vibrant interactions of the New Caledonian people with their surroundings.