11 Jan 2022

In brief: News from around the Pacific

8:51 am on 11 January 2022

New Caledonian leader backs Macron candidacy

The president of New Caledonia's Southern Province said she will support Emmanuel Macron in April's French presidential election.

Sonia Backes, who is a leading anti-independence politician, made the declaration after meeting with Mr Macron in Paris.

Her camp is split over who to favour in the contest, with some backing the Republicans' Valerie Pecresse and others supporting the right-wing candidate, Eric Zemmour.

Ms Backes has hailed Mr Macron's engagement as a key factor that New Caledonia last month voted to stay French.

Shortly after the referendum, a committee was set up in Noumea to support his re-election campaign led by the city's mayor Sonia Lagarde.

In the 2017 election, a majority in the Southern Province voted for Mr Macron's rival Marine Le Pen while the other two provinces backed Mr Macron.

Air New Zealand confirms next repatriation to Tonga

The next repatriation flight from Auckland to Tonga has been confirmed after Air New Zealand hit pause on the inter-island travel when an underwater volcano erupted near Tongatapu.

Passengers are sheduled to take off next Thursday.

Hunga Tonga Hunga Haapai began erupting in December last year and acid rain was discharged into the atmosphere disrupting flights.

Air New Zealand said it is now safe for passengers to resume travel.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand says it will continue to operate cargo flights from Auckland to Tonga once a week.

Huge backpay for reinstated Samoan police inspector

In Samoa, Cabinet has approved close to $170,000 tala backpay for reinstated Police Inspector Tapua'i Sapani Leleimalefaga.

Radio Polynesia has obtained a Cabinet Directive from December 9, 2021, which includes details of the payment.

In 2017 Leleimalegafa was suspended and two years later his employment was terminated by the former Police Commissioner, Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil.

Leleimalefaga then appealed the decision, which the District Court has overturned after more than two years of court proceedings.

The cabinet directive said that during a Cabinet meeting in December, the backpay matter was discussed and approved for Leleimalefaga.

The document said the backpay amounts to $166,703.02 covering the period from September 2017 until September 2021.

The Cabinet Directive said the funding will come from the approved budget for financial year 2021-2022.

Samoan boxing great inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame Class

Former Samoan-New Zealander heavyweight boxer To'aletai David Tua has been inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2022 in the U.S.

David Tua

David Tua Photo: RNZ / Mei Heron

To'aletai who attended the event virtually over the weekend, was joined by other members of the Class of 2022 who were also inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame.

The boxing hall of fame's mission is to honour former boxers and those who have contributed to boxing.

The induction requirements for a boxer is that they are to have won three or more senior amateur titles, or won two or more senior national titles, or competed in at least five main event contests in the professional ranks.