18 Sep 2003

Wallisians burn down their houses as they leave Noumea's St Louis

9:34 am on 18 September 2003

The last of the Wallisian families being moved from the Ave Maria area of Noumea's St Louis suburb are burning down their houses to stop the local Kanaks from occupying them.

Their lawyer Frederick de Grelan says the last 30 families have until tonight to vacate the area which has been the centre of violent ethnic clashes for the past 20 months.

He says the move has been going on since Monday after police secured the area.

Mr de Grelan says the Wallisians are taking parts what they can use in their new homes, and then burning down the houses and trees.

"they are frustrated to have to leave their homes. They don't want any body to live in their homes. Most of them - they built their homes themselves, their children were born there, so they resent it very much and they don't want anyone to go into their houses afterwards. Anybody - that is, members of the St Louis tribe."