Regional

Australia boosts emergency funding for bushfire-affected businesses

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia on Monday boosted emergency grants and loans for small businesses hit by bushfires that have ravaged the country during the peak tourist season, as firefighters used cooler weather to prepare for...

Cook Islands Rugby League undaunted by ‘group of death’

The Cook Island Rugby League team is undaunted by being drawn in what many are calling the ‘group of death’ at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England. The draw was made on Friday with Fiji grouped with champions Australia, Scotland and Italy and New Zealand have been drawn alongside, Lebanon, Jamaica and Ireland....

Stormy weather disrupts parts of Samoa

Samoa’s power supply, international flights as well as inter-island ferry sailings were disrupted over the weekend due to bad weather brought by Cyclone Tino. Hundreds of passengers and vehicles were stranded on Mulifanua and Salelologa wharves on Saturday when the Samoa Shipping Corporation temporarily called off its scheduled trips due to high seas and strong...

PNG defends human rights efforts following damning NGO report

Papua New Guinea’s government has defended its efforts to protect human rights. This follows a damning international NGO report into the state of human rights in PNG. Human Rights Watch’s annual summary on PNG says little was done in the past year to tackle corruption, police abuses and domestic violence. Its Deputy Director for Asia, Phil Robertson,...

19th January

Floods, road closures in Australia as storms lash some bushfire-hit regions

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Parts of Australia’s east coast were hit by severe storms on Saturday, dousing some of the bushfires that have devastated the region for months but causing road closures and flash flooding. Fears of smoke from the fires disrupting the Australian Open tennis receded in Melbourne, where the main tournament was due to...

Vanuatu MP for Ambae Island quits, 12 days before term ends

One of the three Vanuatu MP’s representing Ambae Island has resigned just 12 days before the end of the parliamentary term. The Vanuatu Daily Post reports Jay Ngwele resigned on 10 January in order to receive his gratuity payment before 22 January. Mr Ngwele said he intended to use the gratuity to help people in his electorate....

Minister: Deployment fulfils aim of vuvale partnership

THE Fijian and Australian people share a proud and enduring friendship, says Minister for Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Inia Seruiratu. While speaking to Fijian soldiers headed for Australia at Nadi’s Black Rock Camp, he highlighted the importance of the deployment. “We proudly matched the strength of our longstanding people-to-people ties at the government...

Fires in New Caledonia in 2019, worst year this century

A stocktake of last year’s fires in New Caledonia has found that 2019 was the worst year this century. According to the the NGO Environment Observatory, there were 676 fires last year which destroyed 29,000 hectares of vegetation. It notes that on New Caledonia’s main island as much vegetation is burned as typically in all...

Fiji troop off to NSW

MORE than 50 soldiers from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces departed the country yesterday headed for fire-ravaged New South Wales in Australia. The soldiers were farewelled by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Inia Seruiratu who reiterated Fiji’s commitment to helping Australia recover from the fatal bushfires that have claimed the lives...

Tahiti leader says impact of Australian fires backs nuclear claims

French Polynesia’s pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru says the smoke from Australia’s bushfires is concrete evidence that fallout from nuclear tests affected islands such as Tahiti. Smoke from Australia this month drifted over the south of French Polynesia after crossing New Zealand. Mr Temaru said this was more than proof that fallout from France’s atmospheric nuclear...

‘It swept right over’: Tuvalu inundated by waves whipped up by Cyclone Tino

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in Tuvalu, with strong winds and giant waves churned up by Cyclone Tino causing extensive damage across the country. Few of the country’s 14 islands were spared damage, said Sumeo Silu, the director of the country’s disaster management office. Two hundred people had been evacuated on...

Marshalls’ President Kabua’s inauguration set for Monday

The formal inauguration for the new government of Marshall Islands President David Kabua is set for Monday in Majuro, with heads of state arriving over the weekend to attend the ceremony. US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie is scheduled to join Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Jr., Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo, Nauru...

Roads and crops damaged in Tonga by Cyclone Tino

Top officials from Tonga’s Ha’apai group say infrastructure is in urgent need of repair in the islands after Cyclone Tino swept past overnight. The storm brought winds of up to 180 km/hr and torrential rain but it had weakened and moved out of the area and cyclone warnings had now ceased. There had been no...

Naiqamu: No nation can escape the impacts of climate change

NO nation, big or small, wealthy or poor can escape the impact of climate change, says Minister for Forests Osea Naiqamu. Mr Naiqamu, while speaking at the tree planting exercise with the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), said it was becoming clearer that climate change was already having repercussions that seemed almost biblical in scope....

‘You have not seen anything yet,’ climate activist Greta says ahead of Davos

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – Swedish activist Greta Thunberg marched with 10,000 protesters in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Friday and said “you have not seen anything yet” before some head to Davos next week to challenge the global financial elite to fight climate change. The 17-year-old, who launched the #FridaysforFuture movement that has sparked...

18th January

54 Fijian army personnel depart for Australia

The 54-member engineering contingent from the Republic of the Fiji Military Forces departed for Australia today to assist in combatting the bushfire crisis there. And with RFMF personnel and disaster officials attending to the needs of Fijians affected by TC Tino, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says this is a proud day to be a Fijian...

From Australian bushfire ashes, a community rises in solidarity

COBARGO, Australia (Reuters) – For two weeks, builder Rod Dunn has been living at a showground in a borrowed caravan, wearing an old coat donated by a friend. His house, car, sheds and work tools were wiped out by the ferocious New Year bushfires that swept through the Australian town of Cobargo, killing three of...

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. Industry bosses were due to meet with Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham later on Thursday as storms and heavy rain brought...

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...

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