9 Dec 2023

Pacific news in brief for December 8

10:19 am on 9 December 2023
A police landcruiser patrols the streets of the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby.

A police landcruiser patrols the streets of the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

Papua New Guinea - violence

Health workers in Rabaul in Papua New Guinea's East New Britain are pleading for police and politicians to help put a stop to the violence which has engulfed the town recently.

The National newspaper reports that four doctors at the provincial hospital were among those who have been victims of attacks and robberies.

The health workers have sent a petition to the police commander Chief Inspector Januarius Vosivai, pleading for him to take action.

A peace ceremony has been held but the hospital manager Dr Osiat Baining said what police should be doing to speaking to the youths involved in the violence and ask them why they are behaving the way they are.

Local MP Dr Allan Marat, who was at the ceremony said "we all make mistakes".

"Take this peace ceremony to heart and let us all work together to restore Rabaul town to its former glory."

Papua New Guinea - gender

A survivor of gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea says Pacific governments have a lot to prove in the fight against violence.

The UN's annual international campaign against gender-based violence is well underway.

The Pacific has one of the highest recorded rates of violence against women and girls globally; with 2 out of 3 women subjected to physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.

Advocate, Hennah Joku, said the issue is rampant in PNG.

Pacific leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the 2012 gender equality declaration last month in Rarotonga.

The incoming Forum chair, Tonga Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni, said there is a push to get action at the political level to ensure change tri

Pacific - fisheries

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is calling for a formal harvest strategy at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Rarotonga.

Members have been discussing fishing allocations at the meeting that started on Monday.

Last year, stakeholders agreed to adopt a non-binding management procedure for skipjack tuna.

WWF Pacific tuna manager Bubba Cook said his organisation wants to see a harvest strategy extended to other species, to remove the need for what he called "annual horse trading".

"Putting an automated system, like a harvest strategy in place, takes the discussion out of the the annual horse trading that we currently undertake with respect to the tropical tunas measure, once every couple of years," Cook said.

Cook said more time spent on fishing allocation discussions, means less time spent addressing other issues like bycatch problems.

Pacific/New Zealand - students

A new study on medical students in New Zealand found Maori and Pasifika enrolments remain too low.

The Auckland University nationwide cross-sectional study of almost 3,000 students found Maori and Pasifika students had a lower overall rate of enrolment.

Decades of efforts have boosted the numbers of Māori and Pacific doctors, but the research shows these ethnicities remain under-represented in the country's medical schools.

The proportion of Māori doctors in New Zealand has increased from 2.3 percent in 2000 to 4.7 percent in 2023.

However, this remains well below the proportion of Māori in the population at 16.5 percent.

Similarly, the proportion of Pasifika doctors is slowly increasing, to 2.2 percent of all doctors, but below the Pasifika population of 8.2 percent.

The study found poverty is a barrier to studying medicine across all demographic groups, and rural-background students are also under-represented in medicine.

"To have the greatest positive impact on health outcomes, the population of doctors as a whole should mirror the society which they take an oath to serve," Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland acting dead Professor Warwick Bagg said.

Fiji - agreement

Fiji and France have signed a status of forces agreement.

The agreement establishes a framework for cooperation in various areas, including defence, security, and military training.

It also paves the way for increased collaboration between Fiji and France to work closely together and develop joint initiatives to address common challenges in the region.

The agreement was signed by Fiji's Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pio Tikoduadua, and France's Minister of Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, at the end of the South Pacific Defence Ministers Meeting in New Caledonia.

Solomon Islands - finance

The Solomon Islands is set to receive a financing package of $45.7 million for secondary education and climate resilience.

The money is coming from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

ADB's Cindy Bryson said the project will bring transformational changes into the school curriculum for levels 10 to 12, and a national professional development programme for teachers and principals.

ADB said the project will update or construct facilities to meet climate-resilient standards at 10 schools.

New Zealand/Pacific - meeting

New Zealand will host the 2024 South Pacific Defence Ministers' Meeting.

This has been announced by New Zealand's defence minister Judith Collins.

This year's meeting took place in New Caledonia this week and covered a range of issues including maritime security, climate change, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as regional security architecture.

Northern Marianas - inmates

The Northern Marianas Department of Corrections is looking at housing some of Guam's inmates in Saipan, in a bid to maximise space and raise revenue.

The Marianas' prison facility on the island has a little over 200 prisoners, but its capacity is for as much as 500, while the Guam corrections facilities are overcrowded.

Marianas Department of Corrections commissioner Anthony Torres said if it agrees to house, for example, 100 prisoners from Guam at $120 per day, that would easily translate to $4.3 million a year.

Torres said if an agreement does push through with the Guam Department of Corrections, they will insist to be given the option to handpick the inmates they would house.

Cook Islands - MMA

Cook Islander Taunga Kairenga has won the New Zealand MMA welterweight championship title.

The Auckland based fighter faced off against Hamilton's Issac Tshikula in the Ultimate Rage tournament last Saturday.

Kairenga won by a unanimous decision. In a flood of emotions, the 21-year-old fell to his knees at the announcement.

He revealed the fight was dedicated to a loved one.

"I dedicated this fight to my mum she recently passed away, it means a lot to me so I dedicated this one to her yeah yeah... This is for you mum," he said.

Cook Island - TikTok

Judah Metu-Teaukura won the New Zealand creator of the year award at the TikTok awards in Sydney on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old is renown for her comedy skits which have amassed over 40 million likes on TikTok.

The Cook Islander who goes by @judaxx on Tiktok, was nominated for the award alongside Uce-gang and the Royal Family Dance Crew.

There were 10 international categories and the public voted for their favourite content creators in each.

Public voting opened a month prior to the awards night.

Metu-Teaukura is very thankful to be the first winner of the New Zealand award and said she wasn't expecting it at all.