27 Aug 2021

In brief: news from around the Pacific

12:13 pm on 27 August 2021
Samoa Airways Boeing 727-800 aircraft

Photo: Supplied

Future of Samoa Airways Boeing 737-800 up in the air

The future of a Samoa Airways leased Boeing 737-800, which is yet to touch down in Samoa, is being considered by the new government.

The Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa, said the previous government did not take the advice from key government stakeholders not to bring in the aircraft because it's the wrong time.

The decision to continue with the move was made after the then caretaker government of the HRPP party had finalised the lease arrangements.

The aircraft is in Brisbane for technical checks and final safety approval before it's flown to Samoa for international service.

But Fiame said the national airline has large debts that need to be paid for the lease of its last aircraft the Malindo Air Boeing 737-800 which has been returned.

She said it's also difficult at this time to operate the national airline for income and profit with international borders closed.

PNG South Bougainvillle MP swaps political parties for a second time.

The South Bougainvillle MP in the Papua New Guinea parliament has swapped political parties for a second time.

Tim Masiu, who is technology and communications minister in the James Marape Government, has left the National Alliance to join Marape's Pangu Party.

Local media reports him saying he chose to do this because of Marape's unwavering support for Bougainville as it progresses towards independence.

When Masiu first entered parliament he was in the People's Progress Party he then later joined the National Alliance.

Kiribati extends border closure

Kiribati has extended its border closure until December 31 this year.

A statement from the Office of the President said the decision was made after assessing the status of the pandemic.

Radio Kiribati reports the extension will remain in force until a new advisory has been issued to lift it when the situation improves.

Special approvals will be obtained for humanitarian flights for medical supplies, essential supplies and medivac operations.

Fa'anana Jerome Grey awarded Polynesian Artist of the Decade

Renowned Samoan-born entertainer Fa'anana Jerome Grey has been awarded the Polynesian Artist of the Decade award by the Asia Pacific Cultural Center in Washington.

The award was one of the highlights of the Samoan Cultural Week held recently.

The organisers says the award recognises the composer of the popular We Are Samoa song and faanana's outstanding contribution to the Polynesian music industry during his four decades career.

Fa'anana composed We Are Samoa while he and his band Ava were entertaining in what was American Samoa's top restaurant and bar, Solis restaurant.

He performed the song for President Jimmy Carter and the US Congress in 1980.