13 Apr 2024

French Pacific news in brief

10:00 pm on 13 April 2024

Minister Darmanin to attend UN C24 decolonisation committee

French Home Affairs and Overseas Minister Gérald Darmanin during a recent visit in New Caledonia in October 2023

French Home Affairs and Overseas Minister Gérald Darmanin Photo: LNC

France's Home Affairs and Overseas Minister Gérald Darmanin is to attend the United Nations's C24 special committee in New York, this Friday. This is part of the ongoing decolonisation process.

He is scheduled for interventions regarding New Caledonia, but also French Polynesia which was re-inscribed on the UN decolonisation list in 2013.

Before the UN Committee, the French minister is planning to send a message calling for "respect of international law in New Caledonia", "as a legislative and constitutional process is currently underway aiming at organising local elections under a new system"

As part of the same one-day trip, he will also hold meetings with New York Mayor, Eric Adams, to discuss combatting terrorism and drug trafficking.

During his short trip, Darmanin also plans to hold talks with "several of France's partners in the Indo-Pacific region".

The Constitutional amendment process, currently underway in New Caledonia, is causing tensions between pro-independence and pro-French parties.

Two arrested at Tahiti airport with 7kg of crystal meth

7 kg of methamphetamine crystals seized at Tahiti-Faa’a International Airport

7kg of methamphetamine crystals seized at Tahiti-Faa'a International Airport Photo: French Customs

According to French customs, two passengers from the US were arrested on Monday at Tahiti-Faa'a International Airport.

The pair were carrying 7kg of crystal methamphetamine, concealed in their luggage. The two suspects remain in custody.

The drugs have an estimated street value of $8 million US.

Record sales for Tahiti pearls

Tahiti pearls

Tahiti pearls Photo: Supplied

Tahiti pearls sold in record numbers in 2023, bringing in US$143 million, compared to US$53 million in 2022.

The pearls have mostly sold in overseas markets, including China and Japan.

However, local industry stakeholders are expecting sales this year to significantly dwindle. This is due to a combination of factors including a raw material shortage, due to a change of temperature in the cultivation sea waters, and a lack of qualified workers.

Gout impacts 15 percent of French Polynesians

French Polynesia holds a world record in gout prevalence

French Polynesia holds a world record in gout prevalence Photo: Polynésie la Première

French Polynesia is currently holding the sad world record for gout prevalence, with 15 percent of its adult population affected by the disease.

This figure is the result of a 2021 study, and published by The Lancet Global Health. It refers to the French Polynesian case study as "epidemiological".

Gout is a debilitating disease caused by an excessive quantity of acid in the blood system. The acid crystallizes, causing arthritis as well as painful joint and tissue inflammations.

Some of the main causes of the disease among French Polynesians are genetic but excessive weight and consumption of alcohol also complicating factors.

French Polynesian Government plans "boot camps" for delinquents

The French Polynesian Government's Youth Delinquency Prevention Department has formed a partnership with "Tahiti Boot Camps, a private organisation, to set up commando-style "boot camps" for teenage delinquents, aged between 14 to 17.

The scheme has been named "Step Up."

The first of these camps will accommodate about 180 youths.The camps will be held three times per year; in April, May, and October.

The aim is to bring delinquent youths into an environment that promotes discipline, teamwork, self-esteem, leadership, and responsibility, amongst other values.

Air Tahiti, Air Rarotonga revive codeshare agreement

Air Rarotonga’s 26-seater SAAB 340B Plus aircraft and Air Tahiti’s ATR-72

Air Rarotonga's 26-seater SAAB 340B Plus aircraft and Air Tahiti's ATR-72 Photo: Air Tahiti

Earlier this month, French Polynesia's Air Tahiti and the Cook Islands'Air Rarotonga renewed their codeshare agreement. This will mainly concern the Papeete-Rarotonga route.

The first such agreement was signed in 2008, but between 2020 and 2022, it was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new agreement restores a bi-weekly connection between the two capitals, one being operated by Air Rarotonga's 26-seater SAAB 340B Plus aircraft, the other by Air Tahiti's ATR-72.