1 Nov 2023

Pacific news in brief for November 1

4:56 pm on 1 November 2023
Flags of Pacific Islands nations, displayed at the 2018 Pacific Islands Forum summit.

Photo: AFP

Pacific - forum

The official programme for the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders meeting in Rarotonga has been released.

The annual meeting will kick off with Pacific sub-regional meetings between the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Micronesian Presidential Summit and Polynesia Leaders Group.

The official opening will take place next Monday night (Cook Islands time) at Avarua National Auditorium.

Day two is packed with more meetings including a Forum leaders and the council of regional organisations heads meeting.

On Wednesday, the leaders will depart for Aitutaki to take part in a retreat away from the prying eyes of the media.

On the final day, leaders will meet with Forum Dialogue Partners, Forum Observers, civil society and other guests.

The US has confirmed its delegation will be headed by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations.

Cook Islands - reinstated

Cook Islands member of parliament Robert Tapaitau has been reinstated as deputy prime minister for the second time while he waits for the outcome of a four-week Judge alone trial

Cook Islands News reports Tapaitau was suspended in June prior to his trial on corruption related charges.

He faces one charge of conspiracy to defraud and three charges of theft as a servant.

Prime Minister Mark Brown told the newspaper he needed Tapaitau to return to help with the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting in Rarotonga.

Pacific - fisheries

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission executive director Rhea Moss-Christian says its meeting in Rarotonga in December is expected to agree on a revised management procedure for skipjack tuna.

Christian told RNZ Pacific the number of days and quotas are two main issues that were discussed at a regional fisheries workshop in Pohnpei in September.

She said there is general agreement that there will be a revised measure and everyone is looking at these new opportunities.

Discussions on the Pacific's albacore harvest strategy will also be an important agenda item at the meeting.

Pacific - seabed

The United Kingdom is the latest country calling for a moratorium on deep sea mining, making it the 23rd nation wanting a precautionary pause.

The International Seabed Authority or ISA is meeting again in Kingston, Jamaica, for the third part of its 28th session.

It is a continuation of its July meeting where member states agreed deep sea mining rules should be finalised by July 2025.

However, a lawyer for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Duncan Currie says the ISA is debating on mining regulations while a growing number of countries do not want it to start.

"What I'd have to say is there is a crosscurrent going on because now you have 23 countries including Aotearoa New Zealand, and including now the United Kingdom and other significant countries, such as Canada, Switzerland and so on, saying 'we want a moratorium'. And that directly cuts across the regulations because the regulations will allow seabed mining to start."

Tonga - resolution

Tonga's Foreign Minister Fekita 'Utoikamanu has defended her Government's decision to oppose a UN resolution calling for a humanitarian truce in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

In a press conference, Minister 'Utoikamanu said her Government supported parts of the resolution such as the need for humanitarian aid and the protection of civilians.

'Utoikamanu said her Government decided to vote against the resolution because a proposed ammendement to include a paragraph condemning Hamas attacks had not been accepted.

The ammendment proposed by Canada had been widely criticised because it diverted from calls for both sides to cease attacks on civilians.

Tonga is among only 14 countries to oppose the resolution, including the United States.

Tonga - diplomacy

China and Tonga are celebrating 25 years of diplomatic relations that started on the 2 November 1998.

RNZ's Tonga correspondent Kalafi Moala said Tonga switched it's alliance from Taiwan to China, respecting the One-China Policy.

He told First Up that Tonga owes China much for the socio-economic development in the country.

"There are hundreds of development projects in Tonga that have been funded by China," he said. "In fact, some of the infrastructural landmarks in Tonga are Chinese-funded such as the government building in the CBD, hospitals, high schools, roads, wharves, and sporting facilities."

Pacific - OFC

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) is looking for a new television production partner for the 2024-2025 season.

A statement from the OFC headquarters in Auckland on Tuesday said the TV production partner would assist in meeting the regional soccer organisation's focus to grow the game across the Pacific region and provide positive experiences for all involved.

OFC said the successful TV Production partner must be able to produce live high quality broadcasts of football matches that includes Senior, Youth, Beach Soccer and Futsal, to be distributed throughout the region and around the world.

Matches that the OFC wants to include in their TV programs include the OFC Nations Cup, the OFC Women's and Men's League, OFC Beach Soccer tournaments and the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

Samoa - mentoring

Apelu Sports founder and director Gabrielle Apelu is one of 16 Pacific delegates in the US for a mentoring program.

The aim of the US State Department-run program is to empower women and girls worldwide under the Entertainment and Sports Network Program Women, to spread the message of equality and opportunity.

Apelu said what she wants out of the program is to be placed with people who can assist with what she feels Samoa lacks, branding visibility of women in rugby league.

She will be mentored by Anne Duffy and Laura Lehman from NFL Films and Chris Cohorst and Nicole Ledvina of the Green Bay Packers.