Regional

17th January

Australian tourism industry seeks urgent help as cost of bushfires grows

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia’s peak tourism body estimated the country’s bushfire crisis has so far cost the industry almost A$1 billion ($690 million) and called for urgent help from the government to lure back visitors....

Norfolk Council of Elders confident over appeal to UN

The Norfolk Council of Elders remains confident its appeal to the United Nations against Australia’s take over of the island will succeed. Australia controversially ended Norfolk Island’s political and economic autonomy in 2015. There have been ongoing protests since, not least a tent vigil at the old government buildings that is now into its fourth...

American Samoa’s governor prepared to file lawsuit over cabotage waiver

American Samoa’s governor is prepared to file a lawsuit against the US Department of Transportation, if his request for a cabotage waiver for Samoa Airways is denied. Lolo Matalasi Moliga wants the Samoa government-owned airline to carry passengers between Pago Pago and Honolulu, as well as the US mainland. Cabotage rules prevent foreign carriers from...

Auckland Island pigs: ‘It’s a big call to eradicate them’

The Department of Conservation’s efforts to cull Auckland Island pigs are being labelled a crime against humanity by the Rare Breeds Conservation Society. The pesky porcines are killing native plants, insects and seabirds – but they’re also the only completely virus-free pig species, which scientists think could hold revolutionary remedies to diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and...

NZers warned to check water quality before swimming

Scientists are reminding people to check the water quality of beaches, estuaries, lagoons and rivers before they swim this summer. Land Air and Water spokesperson, scientist Anna Madarasz-Smith, assured RNZ’s Summer Report that New Zealand’s roughly 740 recreational swimming spots were largely safe to swim in, but warned that could change quickly with wet weather. “You get...

Tahiti prepares for Macron’s trip in April

The French overseas minister Annick Girardin is due in French Polynesia early next month to help prepare President Emmanuel Macron’s Tahiti visit in April. No date has been set for his visit, which will also feature the next One World Summit expected to be attended by Pacific Island leaders. When announcing his initiative in 2018,...

China destination approval a ‘game-changer’ for Kiribati tourism

The head of the Kiribati tourism authority believes being added to China’s list of approved destinations will be a game-changer. The announcement came after the Kiribati president Taneti Maamau visited Beijing and signed up to China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. The head of the authority, Petero Manufolau, said the new status paved the way for marketing...

Palau urges people to support Australia fires appeal

The Office of the President of Palau has appealed to the island’s people to get behind an appeal created to support communities devastated by the Australian bushfires. Since November, more than 15 million hectares of land has burnt resulting in more than 3000 homes destroyed and 28 deaths. In addition, over a billion animals have...

Wellington’s Pasifika festival to donate proceeds to Samoa measles response

Proceeds from this weekend’s Pasifika festival in New Zealand’s capital will go to the Samoa measles response fund. About 15,000 people attend the Wellington event each year and this year festival workshops are asking for donations to help Samoa recover from the measles epidemic. Eighty-three people, mostly children, died in the space of three months – with multiple...

Samoa to consider restrictions on alcohol ads

Samoa’s government is looking to place controls on alcohol advertising in a bill to be introduced to Parliament this year. The chair of the Liquor Board, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, confirmed the Bill was being drafted and would include “criteria for the advertisement of alcohol,” the Samoa Observer reports. A 2015/16 report from Samoa’s Law Reform Commission pointed...

Tahitian Village project: 5 local bids submitted

Five local bids have been submitted to build accommodation units at the planned Tahitian Village complex, says French Polynesia’s government. The Tahitian Village is the remnant of the $US3 billion Mahana Beach project, which the government launched six years ago with the aim of doubling tourist numbers. The government said the agency acting on its...

‘Australia ruined them’: Asylum seeker ‘torture’ at PNG’s Bomana

Sleep deprivation could be a form of torture being used on asylum seekers detained in Papua New Guinea’s Bomana prison. Eighteen men remain in the Australian-built immigration detention centre in Port Moresby, where they were locked up in August after seven years on Manus Island. About 30 have been released, malnourished and psychologically broken, after agreeing to...

Samoa’s ban on styrofoam products shelved for 6 months

The proposed ban on styrofoam products in Samoa has been deferred for six months. The ban, which was to start 30 January, has been put back to 30 June. A senior officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment confirmed the ban had been postponed to allow local companies to get rid of styrofoam products already...

Tahiti job figures mask true rates of unemployment

Only about half of French Polynesia’s people of working age have a job, according to figures just released for 2018. The territory’s statistics institute said 44 percent of women and 59 percent of men in French Polynesia are employed. Those figures are much lower than in mainland France, where 66 percent of people are employed....

Tax increases proposed in CNMI to boost school funding

In an effort to shore up funding for local schools, a proposal has been submitted to the Northern Marianas Legislature to impose a number of tax increases aimed at higher earners. The Board of Education’s proposal would increase the current withholding tax of by 1 percent to 10 percent for those who make at least...

Evacuation centres opened as Cyclone Tino aims for Fiji, Tonga

Evacuation centres have been opened in Fiji’s north and people are being told to hunker down as a rapidly intensifying Cyclone Tino approaches. Meanwhile, preparations are underway in Tonga with the capital, Nuku’alofa, sitting directly in Tino’s path. The cyclone, which was upgraded to a category one early on Friday morning, was strengthening as it...

16th January

Call for investigation after accident at CNMI casino site

A lawmaker in the Northern Marianas is urging his colleagues to start an investigation into the latest accident that happened at the construction site of the Imperial Pacific International resort in Saipan. Edwin Propst has called on the House of Representatives Committee on Gaming to initiate the probe. Mr Propst said he received some confidential...

Damning report into state of Papua New Guinea released

A human rights organisation has released a damning report into the state of Papua New Guinea, where a change of prime minister has done little to tackle rampant violence and corruption. Human Rights Watch’s annual report reveals rates of violence, domestic abuse, corruption and foreign debt haven’t improved over the past year, where weak enforcement...

Beatrice Faumuinā joins Sport NZ board

Faumuinā represented New Zealand at four Olympic and five Commonwealth Games. She won the discus world title at the 1997 and gold medals at the 1998 and 2002 Commonwealth Games. From 2015-2018, she was Consul General for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in New York. Faumuinā’s appointment to the Sport New Zealand board...

Chinese fishing company defends marine pollution in Tahiti

A Chinese fishing company accused of marine pollution in French Polynesia says its fishing boat discharged hundreds of litres of liquids, including fuel, for safety reasons. The boat, the Xin Shi Ji 203, was intercepted off Tahiti last May after airline pilots spotted a slick emanating from it. Its lawyer told the criminal court in...

Many of PNG’s young safe from measles after polio, MMR campaign

Measles has caused major problems across the Pacific with an epidemic in Samoa claiming 83 lives. In PNG, there are currently four confirmed cases in four different provinces with a number of suspected cases. However, UNICEF health programme officer Philomena Tatireta said an estimated 3.4 million children received the polio dose and at the same time...

Vanuatu stops issuing kava export licences, moves to tighten regulations

The head of Vanuatu’s agriculture ministry has suspended the issuing and renewal of all kava export licences, citing concerns that farmers are being ripped off by exporters. Moses Amos said over the Christmas and New Year period, kava exporters drastically reduced their buying price for dried kava chips, in the worst case by almost 90...

Strong opposition emerges to proposed Bougainville reforms

A prominent Bougainville leader has come out against government plans to allow presidents to hold office for three terms. Such a move goes before Parliament this week aimed at ensuring the incumbent John Momis, who has been president for 10 years, can continue in the role. Cabinet minister Albert Punghau, a supporter of Mr Momis,...

Cyclone likely to form on Thursday, Fiji in path

A tropical depression continues to strengthen as it moves towards Fiji, and is forecast to intensify into a cyclone tonight. The system is forecast to swerve south of Rotuma tonight, before tracking close to a major town, Labasa, tomorrow as a category one or two cyclone. The Fiji Meteorological Service said it was then likely...

News coverage of Australian bushfires highlight Murdoch family rift on climate

(Reuters) – The younger son and daughter-in-law of News Corp <NWSA.O> Executive Chairman and Fox Corporation Co-Chairman Rupert Murdoch took aim at both organizations’ coverage of climate change, widely viewed as a contributing factor to the Australian bushfires, in a statement to The Daily Beast https://www.thedailybeast.com/james-murdoch-slams-fox-news-and-news-corp-over-climate-change-denial on Tuesday. “Kathryn and James (Murdoch’s) views on climate...

Oceans reached record temperatures again in 2019

The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record last year, reveals a new analysis. The authors – a team of US and Chinese scientists who compiled data from nearly 4000 sensors across the oceans – say it shows the irrefutable and accelerating heat of the planet. The analysis, published in the journal Advances in...

NZ’s new aid policy ‘encouraging’ but more transparency needed – watchdog

More transparency in New Zealand’s foreign aid spending would boost the positive changes within its new aid policy, academics say. The government’s International Cooperation for Effective Sustainable Development policy was released in December. The New Zealand Aid and Development Dialogues group, which analyses New Zealand’s development aid, said the policy focussed on sustainable development and...

WHO says new China coronavirus could spread, warns hospitals worldwide

GENEVA (Reuters) – There may have been limited human-to-human transmission of a new coronavirus in China within families, and it is possible there could be a wider outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to SARS. A...

Seven men accused of Tahiti meth ring appear in court

Seven men have appeared in court in French Polynesia accused of being part of a methamphetamine distribution network. They were arrested last week after they allegedly smuggled in drugs worth about US$600,000 using the postal system over several months. The prosecution said the men used false names and addresses to receive small quantities of the...

Cook Islands beef up food safety regulations

The Cook Islands health ministry is tightening regulations for food vendors, including bringing back a requirement for vendors to undergo medical tests. However, many in the catering industry are unhappy, reports Radio Cook Islands. Cook Islands Secretary for Health Aumea Herman said the requirement had always been present in legislation, but the government had not had...

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