20 Apr 2024

French Pacific news in brief

1:14 pm on 20 April 2024
Los Angeles International Airport in California.

LA Airport Photo: sainaniritu/123RF

French Polynesian dancer held in LA for methamphetamine possession

A French Polynesian dancer is being held in Los Angeles Airport after being found in possession of "about one kilo" of crystal methamphetamine with an estimated street value of more than US$1 million.

The man was travelling with his dance group as part of a US tour.

Earlier this week, a man in his thirties was also arrested after he was identified as the recipient of a parcel containing one hundred grams of the same drugs concealed in a doll. The parcel had been posted from mainland France.

Before a Papeete court, he and his accomplice were sentenced to four and three years' jail respectively, including eighteen months suspended.

Sniffer dog at the airport

Sniffer dog Scoop at Tahiti- Faa'a International Airport Photo: French Customs

Last week, a pair of Tahitian residents were also arrested at Tahiti- Faa'a International Airport after seven kilos of the same substance were detected in their luggage.

French public prosecutor in Papeete Thomas Pison said an estimated 10 French Polynesians were currently being held in the US facing prosecution for similar cases of drug trafficking.

Climate change forum in New Caledonia

New Caledonia’s first forum on climate change

New Caledonia's first forum on climate change Photo: NC la Première

New Caledonia held its first forum dedicated to climate change this week.

The aim is to formulate a specific adaptation strategy in the face of climate change with inputs from the government as well as a large panel of civil society stakeholders.

One of the goals was to help prepare a document that would later serve as the basis for a "climate emergency" declaration to be filed at the local Congress, ecological transition minister Jérémie Katidjo-Monnier told local media.

The government-initiated inaugural meeting took place on Thursday in Dumbéa (near the capital Nouméa).

New Caledonia-inspired video game nets another international award

Screen shot from the award-winning, New Caledonia-inspired video game “Tchia”

Screen shot from the award-winning, New Caledonia-inspired video game "Tchia" Photo: Awaceb

New Caledonia-inspired video game "Tchia" has netted a second prestigious international award: a BAFTA in the "Game Beyond Entertainment" category.

"Tchia" develops around the adventures of a teenage indigenous Kanak girl including scenes from New Caledonia as the backdrop.

The game's plot also highlights environmental issues.

It has already received an award at the Los Angeles Game Awards in December 2023 in the category "Games for Impact".

The game's designers and developers, now based in Montreal (where their founded studio "Awaceb" grew up in New Caledonia.

Real-life security exercise ahead of Olympics surf competition in Tahiti

French security forces in security exercise ahead of French Olympics surfing events at Teahupoo

French security forces in security exercise ahead of French Olympics surfing events at Teahupoo Photo: Haut-Commissariat, Polynésie française

French security forces held this week a real-life exercise ahead of the Olympics surfing event in Tahiti, near the iconic site of Teahupoo.

The exercise, codenamed "Mataara 2024", focused on securing and responding to a potential threat (including terrorists) onboard the cruise liner where competing surfers will be accommodated, in the Bay of Vairao, the French High Commission in French Polynesia said.

It involved the participation of local French security forces, including French gendarmes, the local branch of the GIGN (Gendarmerie's SWAT intervention group), fire services, medical emergency services SAMU, a medical platoon from the army, and one helicopter.

The Paris 2024 Olympics surfing events are scheduled to be held at Teahupoo in late July.

Tahiti budgets 160 million US dollars for 2027 Pacific Games

French Polynesia’s Territorial Assembly in session

French Polynesia's Territorial Assembly in session Photo: Assemblée de la Polynésie française

French Polynesia's Territorial Assembly has unanimously endorsed this week a preliminary budget of some US$160 million in provision for hosting the 2027 Pacific Games.

The amount, albeit a downward revision compared to the initial US$268 million earmarked by French Polynesia's previous government, is supposed to cover the necessary infrastructure and accommodation investments for the 2027 Games.

An additional contribution is also expected from the French government, but the amount remains to be negotiated and announced.

However the consensus remained this week, from all sides of the political spectrum in the House, to acknowledge that hosting the Pacific Games is also a golden opportunity for French Polynesia to "shine" in the Pacific region and beyond.

"This is way beyond sport and it goes to the very heart of our collective Pacific identity", pro-independence Tavini party MP Tevaipaea Hoiore said during debates.