14 Jun 2022

News briefs from around the Pacific on June 14

8:40 am on 14 June 2022

Niue continues investigation into Taiwanese vessel

The government of Niue continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding a Taiwanese vessel that ran aground in a Marine Protected area.

Niue's acting Secretary of Government Gaylene Tasmania said a team of Police, Maritime, and Fisheries officials have been to the site to assess Moana Mahu Marine Park, a large protected marine reserve.

The FV Chuan I Shin grounded on Beveridge Reef.

The FV Chuan I Shin grounded on Beveridge Reef. Photo: Government of Niue

She said they found the Chuan I Shin on fire and it was too unsafe for Niue's assessment team to board.

But they were still able to gather important information from the vessel which grounded on Beveridge reef on June 1.

French Polynesia's Tahoeraa Huiraatira hopes its supporters will abstain next weekend's second round of the French National Assembly election.

French Polynesia's erstwhile dominant Tahoeraa Huiraatira has called on its supporters to abstain in next weekend's second round of the French National Assembly election.

In the first round, the party's three candidates failed to win enough votes to make it to the run-off.

One of the unsuccessful candidates of the renamed party was Pascale Haiti, who is the partner of the party founder and leader Gaston Flosse.

Flosse himself has been ineligible to hold public office since 2014 after several corruption convictions.

The three Assembly seats will be contested by the three candidates of the ruling Tapura Huiraatira and the opposition Tavini Huiraatira.

Mr Flosse ruled out backing the Tapura, accusing it of catastrophic management of the territory, which resulted in hundreds of Covid-19 deaths.

He also criticised the Tavini which he says wants to return its leader Oscar Temaru to the presidency.

The call to abstain comes after turnout in the first round had been dropped to just over 42 percent.

Flosse said his party, which he renamed Amuitahiraa, should focus on next year's territorial election.

In the first round of the French National Assembly election in Wallis and Futuna, the candidate of the ruling majority, Mikaele Seo, won the most votes and is through to Sunday's run-off for the territory's sole seat in Paris.

Mr Seo won just under 22 percent of the vote, with the opposition-backed Etuato Mulukihaamea also through after winning 19 percent.

Seven candidates contested Sunday's vote, which saw a turnout of 78 percent among the nearly 10-thousand registered voters.

Mr Seo, who is the president of the permanent commission of the assembly of Wallis and Futuna, had been in the Paris seat since 2019 after the last winner Sylvain Brial fell ill and quit his post.

Mr Mulikihaamea is the head of the local Olympic committee and is known for his engagement in rugby.

Marriage is not a licence to control women's bodies says Fiji's women's group.

The Fiji Women's Rights Movement says marriage is not a licence to control women's bodies.

The group has criticised recent discussions during a consultation with the Minister for Health and Medical Services by concerned men about their wives and partners using contraceptives without their consent.

The Fiji Women's Rights Movement said women are not the property of their husbands.

It's encouraging family planning and as well as counselling.

Fiji has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world, with more than 60-percent of Fijian women experiencing violence at least once in their lifetime.

Samoa police to undergo drug tests

Samoa's Ministry of Police and Prisons is to introduce mandatory drug tests for all officers.

A view of Apia taken from outside police headquarters

Main Samoa police station in Apia Photo: RNZI/ Sally Round

She said the ministry is in talks with anti-doping specialists to develop a drug testing regime.

Papali'i said they want to identify those officers using drugs and expel them from the force.

The move follows an internal investigation into 20 officers for alleged illicit drug use.

Three officers were to face the Internal Police Tribunal but two have opted to resign and one is challenging the findings of the investigation.

The other 17 officers were cleared and are back working.

Papali'i said it was high time the Police Force was subjected to regular drug tests to allay any public suspicions of internal illegal activities within the force.

Cook Islands receives a new patrol boat

Australia's Minister for Veteran Affairs, Matt Keogh, has handed over a Guardian class patrol boat to the Cook Islands.

It replaces the Pacific class patrol boat Te Kukupa, which was gifted by Australia to the Cooks 33 years ago.

The Guardian class boats are larger and faster, supporting more effective humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

Mr Keogh said the handover speaks of the deep and abiding friendship between the two nations.

He said the vessel will help in the pan-Pacific fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, narcotics trafficking, people smuggling, and trans-national crime.