2 Sep 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific

5:14 pm on 2 September 2021

High chief interred in New Caledonia; Niue tries to broaden its economy; and union help for dismissed workers.

Kanak high chief interred

A ceremony has been held in New Caledonia for the interment of the relics of the Kanak high chief Atai, who was killed during a rebellion in 1878.

The event in La Foa was attended by political leaders from across the political spectrum as well as the French High Commissioner and the commander of the French military forces in New Caledonia.

Atai was decapitated and his head sent to France when the colonial administrators put down the Kanak uprising, which claimed about 1000 lives.

About 200 settlers were also killed and to remember them, a plaque was unveiled at Atai's tomb.

Kanak and French flags on Ouvea island.

Kanak and French flags on Ouvea island. Photo: AFP

At the ceremony, one of Atai's descendants said he hoped that as a sign of conciliation, the La Foa townhall will as New Caledonia's last municipality fly the Kanak flag next to the French flag.

The Kanaks say they would like this to happen before the December referendum on independence from France.

For years, Atai's had was believed to have been lost but it was found at the Museum of Mankind in Paris a decade ago as France was preparing to return of Maori heads to New Zealand.

In 2014, the head was handed back to one of his descendants, Berge Kawa.

Niue's business challenges

Niue's Chamber of Commerce says businesses on the island are getting by, but only just.

Chamber President Catherine Papani says the impact of Covid-18 has seen a desire to broaden the economy, so the island is not solely dependent on tourism.

Ms Papani says the island already has a proven track record with taro, honey, noni and vanilla exports, and other products may follow.

But she says, with any opening of a tourism bubble now pushed back further, it's a challenge for business.

"We're ticking over. That's how I would like to say it. Businesses are still open. Our accommodation of course I would say they are in a state of hibernation. But in some cases in some of the businesses they have been used as MIQ facilities, there's some promotion for locals to have time out in the accommodation. So I think we are surviving, and it's a challenge."

Unions helping unemployed in Samoa

In Samoa, the International Labour Organisation has teamed up with the Samoa Workers Congress to help those made unemployed by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

TV1Samoa reports the groups have organised workshops to help workers cope with sudden unemployment.

The Samoa Workers Congress President, Gatoloai Tili Afamasaga, says their research shows that more than 200 people had lost their jobs and some have had to work shorter hours, meaning less pay.

She says there's a need to help the unemployed to cope.

Recent workshops were also aimed at how to get back into the workforce when jobs start opening up.

Passengers on test flight in MIQ

A total of 137 passengers, who arrived in American Samoa on last night's Hawaiian Airlines test flight from Honolulu, are now in 10-day quarantine.

The flight tested local preparations when commercial air service between Honolulu and Pago Pago resumes on September the 13th.

This is the first flight to bring in passengers who were not required to be quarantined in Honolulu, as in previous repatriation flights.

The government's Covid-19 Task Force says four travellers were removed due to positive test results, eleven passengers for coming in close contact with the positive cases and one partially vaccinated traveller who dropped out at the last minute.

Vanuatu's donation to Fiji

Vanuatu has boosted Fiji's Covid-19 response effort with a donation of $US89,000.

The Vanuatu Council of Ministers approved the support during its meeting this week.

Director of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade Yvon Basil says Fiji is one of Vanuatu's closest partners.

He says both countries have a good relationship and Fiji has helped Vanuatu in many ways.

Mr Basil says this includes hosting about 100 ni-Vanuatu students studying in Fiji.

Given the Melanesian solidarity, the government felt the urge to assist them.

"This is a kind gesture to show our solidarity and sympathy to the government of Fiji that we are here to support them in this uncertainty," he said.