23 Jul 2005

French Polynesia president says territory should be called Tahiti Nui

7:30 am on 23 July 2005

The President of French Polynesia wants his territory renamed Tahiti Nui and more indigenous people professionally trained so it can cut its ties with France.

Oscar Temaru has been visiting New Zealand with a 24-strong party looking at business, education, language and governance.

He says the territory has to be known by its native name and not by a colonial label.

Mr Temaru told senior staff at Unitec in Auckland yesterday that for his territory to move forward, education is critical, so more local people can take on senior jobs.

"It is the system that has been put in place by our predecessors. It's not normal, when I travel in the Pacific, I go to PNG, I go to the Cook Islands, Fiji, all the CEOs are local people, so that's the idea, to educate, to train our own people to be the leaders in the future."

He says 80 per cent of the senior jobs in Tahiti are held by French people originating from metropolitan France.

Mr Temaru says without more skilled French Polynesians, independence will be further off.