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Coconut hunting

Gathering from home, on horseback

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Photo by Eric Guth

Teiki Pao and his horse, Légende, have a route they take through town and out to the forest. Teiki collects coconuts and husks them so the meat can be dried and sold as copra, the dried coconut that helps drive the economy on many French Polynesian islands.

 

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Photo by Eric Guth

The coconuts that Teiki collects with Légende will be dried and taken to Tahiti, about 1,400 kilometers away from the Marquesan Island of Nuku Hiva where Teiki lives.

The coconut will be pressed in a factory and eventually routed into commercial products sold around the world. And it all starts here.

 

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Photo by Eric Guth

Légende stays near Teiki’s house in the town of Taioha’e, the largest community in the Marquesas, but it doesn’t take long to reach the land where they can collect coconuts.

 

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Photo by Eric Guth

Teiki finds mature coconuts on the ground and gathers them into piles to begin extracting the meat.

 

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Photo by Eric Guth

His equipment is simple but effective. He works barefoot with a collection of bags that come from the oil factory. On his belt, he carries a machete for clearing the brush and opening the coconuts. He also carries a smaller curved knife specifically designed for cutting and scooping the flesh from the fruit.

 

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Photo by Eric Guth

Teiki does not dry the coconut himself. He sells it to the Haiti family who will dry it in their homemade coconut oven and then ship it off to Tahiti.

 

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Photo by Eric Guth

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