9 Jun 2022

News briefs from around the Pacific on June 9

8:28 am on 9 June 2022

War of words between two veteran PNG politicians

A war of words has erupted between two veteran Papua New Guinea politicians.

Former prime minister, Peter O'Neill, the sitting MP in Ialibu-Pangia, accused Don Polye, the incumbent in Kandep, of lacking cultural awareness and sensitivity.

This was after Mr Polye told Mr O'Neill a welcome ceremony he received on Manus Island would not empower him.

Mr Polye says invoking non-existent ancestral spirits is a hocus-pocus designed to deceive Mr O'Neill's People's National Congress and his followers.

PNG Loop reports Mr O'Neill saying the Polye comments are a distasteful take on a genuine and traditional blessing ceremony given on his arrival on Manus.

Papua New Guinea's election is scheduled to start on July 2.

Second round of French National Assembly election resumes next week

Campaigning has resumed in French Polynesia for the second round of the French National Assembly election on June 18.

In last weekend's first-round the three candidates of the ruling Tapura Huiraatira and the three of the pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira made it through to the run-off, eliminating the other 21 candidates vying for the three seats.

The bidding is on to win the support of more than 57 percent of voters who abstained in the first round and of those who voted for the unsuccessful candidates.

This includes backers of the erstwhile dominant Tahoeraa Huiraatira, which for the first time has no politician left in contention.

Also, for the first time, the Tavini has three candidates making the run-off, including 21-year-old Temata'i Le Gayic.

He is up against Tapura's Nicole Bouteau, a former minister who territory-wide won the most votes in the first round.

The Greens have already said they won't vote for the Tapura.

French Polynesia's three constituencies were the only ones in France to vote on June 4.

The other 574 constituencies will vote this weekend, with the run-off for all a week later.

More Covid restrictions lifted in American Samoa

American Samoa's Lieutenant Governor has called on the community to mask up, get vaccinated, and get tested if needed, as more Covid restrictions are lifted.

American Samoa's Lieutenant governor Talauega Eleasalo Ale.

Lieutenant governor, Talauega Eleasalo Ale Photo: Fili Sagapolutele

He said these are the four pillars to protect the territory from further surges in the community from other viruses in the future.

Lieutenant Governor, Talauega Eleasalo Ale, marked Tuesday as day 106 since the first case of Covid was detected in the community.

"We have witnessed the loss of dear lives and many who have suffered as a result of Covid but by the grace of God we have weathered through the difficult times and we are now at a point where we can safely declare that our surge has to a lull, and we are in a better place than we were in the early part of this year."

Overall total cumulative cases since the community spread stand at 6,208 and Covid-related deaths remain at thirty-one.

The Health Department is now releasing Covid-19 data weekly instead of daily as the community spread of Covid-19 cases remains low in the territory.

Since February 21, the LBJ Medical Center reports that 107 individuals were admitted to the hospital due to Covid illness.

Talauega thanked the community, first responders, health officials, and others for supporting the government efforts to protect the territory from the deadly virus.

He also expressed appreciation to the US government team, who returned to the U.S. last week, after being on the island since the first week of March to support the local Covid response.

Bougainville govt pays tribute to its first president Joseph Kabui

The Bougainville Government has paid tribute to the first president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea region, Joseph Kabui.

Mr Kabui had completed less than three years in office before he passed away on June 7th, 2008.

Marking his 14th anniversary the current President, Ishmael Toroama, called him a patriot, a hero of the revolution, and a political icon of Bougainville.

He said, "as a political leader his lasting legacy will be the peace Bougainville has come to know after a bloody 10-year civil war and the brave steps he took as the inaugural President."

Mr Toroama said Mr Kabui was the foremost signatory of the Bougainville side in the signing of the Peace Agreement which guides us today towards independence.

"As a man of peace, he encouraged peace by peaceful means that formed the basis of peace on Bougainville through reconciliation and forgiveness."

Plane forced to make emergency landing due to engine failure

A plane has made an emergency landing, ending up on its roof on a reef off Tahiti in French Polynesia on Wednesday morning.

The two men on board have been rescued and one of them is slightly injured.

Local media say the CESSNA, which belonged to a skydiving club, was forced to land due to an engine failure.

World Bank to combat malnutrition among Marshallese children with extra funding

Further funding from the World Bank is planned to combat malnutrition among Marshallese children.

The World Bank approved a total of 27 million US dollars for the project which follows an initial programme in 2019.

The new funding will again focus on early childhood development, home visits, boosting attendance in pre-schools, and increasing family support.

The bank said it hopes the project will reduce high rates of malnutrition and stunting affecting 35 percent of children under the age of five.

Christchurch college allows students to wear traditional lavalava to school

Students at Christ's College in Christchurch New Zealand are excited they can finally wear an 'ie faitaga' a traditional lavalava with pockets to school instead of gray pants.

The school's principal says the addition to the official College uniform can be worn by Pasifika students in place of their trousers throughout the year.

Jayden Sa and his boys in the school's 1st XV Rugby team have been the first to make the change.

He said he and the boys are honoured to wear the ie faitaga at College.

Victoria University announces new Emerging Pasifika Writer in Residence

A Wellington-based Samoan student has won a prestigious New Zealand writing award.

Victoria University of Wellington's International Institute of Modern Letters announced Tamara Tulitua as this year's Emerging Pasifika Writer in Residence.

Ms Tulitua traces her lineage through the villages of Lefaga and her writing considers identity and belonging.

The residency will provide her with 15,000 New Zealand dollars over three months and access to a mentor.

She intends to use the residency to work on a collection that mixes prose and poetry as it explores the experiences of tama'ita'i Samoa (Samoan women) in diasporic settings around the world.