May 2013

Views from Auckland

Climate science must listen to indigenous voices

One of my most cherishable memories at the University of the South Pacific is that of a visit to the journalism students’ newsroom by a small group of quaintly dressed people, some of them wearing heavy furs and thick skintight leather jackets, rugged blankets and heavy boots. And it was ...

We Say

NZ legalises same sex marriages

‘…Pacific islands nations are unlikely to follow in New Zealand’s footsteps in a hurry, although the islands’ wedding segment of tourism will quite likely receive a boost with requests from same sex couples wishing to tie the knot in their exotic locales. The question would then arise if local churches ...

Accessing food a challenge

‘While access to food situation is not as bad in the Pacific islands as it is in some impoverished parts of the world, the quality and nutritional value of available food is already a big issue. This is why there is such a runaway growth in lifestyle diseases. Artificial and ...

Whispers

Whispers

Budget question: WHISPERS hears that at the recent annual meeting of the OCO (Oceania Customs Organisation) in Tonga, there were many questions raised about its audited account. One such question was how 30% of its 2012 budget, totalling a little over $1 million, was used for personal expenses without any ...

Pacific Update

Kalosil keeps everyone guessing on new moves

Davendra Sharma

If first impressions are anything to go by, Vanuatu’s new Greens Party prime minister will truly stamp his place in the country’s political history. Changing and chopping his predecessor’s appointments—ministerial and foreign diplomatic postings—was Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil’s first moves as he consolidated his support from within his new ...

Nauru elections in possible delay

Robert Matau

Nauru’s parliament is again in the throes of uncertainty as moves within are preventing its dissolution, a legal pre-requisite to national elections as scheduled for this year. The 18-seat institution has been wrought with political and legal difficulties over the past month as a number of sittings have been characterised ...

Tuvalu waiting on by-election decision

Robert Matau

Tuvalu is awaiting two important court decisions in relation to a by-election to elect a replacement for the late Finance Minister Lotoala Metia who died last December. Government officials confirmed last month that they were awaiting the arrival of Chief Justice Gordon Ward in May. Ward will provide government with ...

Cover story

Witchcraft Saga

A surge in sorcery and witchcraft related murders in Papua New Guinea has drawn widespread condemnation from international groups such as the United Nations and Amnesty International. A growing culture of insecurity and fear has been blamed and there are concerns it will impact on the country’s economic development.

Sorcery prompts calls for death penalty

Davendra Sharma

It is ironic that at a time when public consensus is gaining momentum for greater women’s rights around the region, men are being accused of horrific crimes and sorcery against hapless women in the region’s most populous nation.

Trade

Roadblocks on PACER Plus talks

Samisoni Pareti

The renewed sense of optimism surrounding the start of PACER Plus negotiations between the Pacific Islands Forum Countries and Australia and New Zealand reportedly suffered a bit of a setback at their last inter-sessional negotiation session last month.

Good progress so far, says Kessie

We had sought an update on PACER Plus negotiations from Dr Edwini Kessie, the Chief Trade Adviser for Pacific Islands Forum Countries based in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Reprinted below are his responses to questions put forward by ISLANDS BUSINESS.

Politics

Saipan, back door into US citizenship for Asian babies?

Haidee V. Eugenio

Pregnant Asian ‘tourists’ mostly from China and Korea have been choosing Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) as a good destination to give birth if they want automatic U.S. citizenship for their children.

Plot thickens as politicians join treasure hunt

Alfred Sasako

It’s a story that won’t go away. Like a narrative being developed into a movie, the plot just gets thicker by the day. The story is about treasure hunt in Solomon Islands. And the chances are that you’ve heard it before. Or read about it somewhere.

Voting rights under challenge

Nic Maclellan

As Noumea prepares to host the leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in June, there are new divisions in New Caledonia’s leading anti-independence party and debates over voting rights for next year’s crucial Congressional elections.

Cleaning up the foreign ministry

Jason Brown

In the photo, the eyes are blurred out. But the name and passport number on the photo are all too clear: that of the current Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Moana Carcasses Kalosil. Interesting, because the passport snap appears on a social network in China, called QQ, advertising passports for sale ...

Business

Kiribati’s new tuna deal with the EU

Robert Matau

Kiribati has secured a US$1.71 million deal for 15,000 tonnes of tuna per year with the European Union. Under the agreement, the EU is now able to deploy four purse seiner and six longline vessels in Kiribati’s waters.

Complex challenges for PM O’Neill in mining

Rowan Callick

Early in the term of Papua New Guinea’s new government—which has ensured, by a constitutional amendment, that it will be in power at least until this time in 2015 – it is facing some complex challenges, especially around the country’s biggest revenue earner, mining. There’s a common view, even in ...

Pension funds eye regional markets

Dionisia Tabureguci

An offshore investment made by pension funds in the Pacific does not only have to mean diversifying to the more developed Western or Asian economies.

Viewpoint

PNG: Social symptoms of economic advancement

Sean Jacobs*

A rare known fact about Papua New Guinea (PNG) is that, over the past ten years, it has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Thanks largely to a protracted mining boom and what appears to be a decent future in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), optimism surrounds ...

Health

Food price fears prompt obese future

Davendra Sharma

Just as the World Bank released a report alerting how malnutrition and obesity were gripping parts of the poor countries, Vanuatu’s own health department voiced concerns of the alarming state of health in the backyard of Pacific islands region.

Banking

Tax haven tsunami

Jason Brown

Two months ago, sitting over a bottle of toddy, an offshore source sums up industry insider forecasts: “They know the writing is on the wall.” Overhead, coconut tree fronds rustle above us in brief summer breezes. One month ago, that breeze turned into a global gale force wind, history’s biggest ...

Debt, investment paint sobering shot of Marshalls

Giff Johnson

The level of Marshall Islands’ offshore loan debt is impressive—over US$120 million— for a country that had revenue of only US$107 million for the fiscal year 2011.

Shipping

Connecting Solomon Islands by sea

SALLY SHUTE-TREMBATH*

An innovative maritime project is improving the safety and efficiency of domestic maritime services, spurring rural development in Solomon Islands and it is shaping up to be a model for similar projects in the Pacific region as SALLY SHUTE-TREMBATH* reports.

Energy

Tapping into a goldmine of energy statistics

Do you know what percentage of the population in your country has access to electricity? Do you know how dependent your country is on fuel imports? Do you know what the energy consumption level is in your country? Do you know what the carbon footprint of your country is?

Arts & Culture

‘A matai title is an obligation’

Merita Huch

Born and raised in New Zealand, Ta’iai Tufue Pisa received a typical Kiwi upbringing where she was involved only in the faa-Samoa through church activities and within her family. She never thought she would be taking up a role as a matai in her family.

Environment

Keeping our ocean-going seabirds safe

Christopher Pala

Each week from November to July, ornithologist Eric VanderWerf drives from Honolulu to this sandy nature reserve on Oahu Island’s northwestern peninsula to count seabirds chicks and check his rodent traps. Last year, the 20-hectare point was separated from the rest of Oahu by a high-tech fence—the first in the ...

Studies on nature ahead of Suva summit

As global experts prepare for a world conference on nature conservation in Fiji in December, the region’s peak environment body claims enough is not known about the Pacific’s biodiversity to make long-term decisions on the region.

Water and biodiversity

David Sheppard*

Biological Diversity or ‘Biodiversity’ refers to the variety of all living things on Earth—all species, genetic resources and ecosystems, and how they function and interact. Biodiversity is the cornerstone of life in the Pacific—our plants, animals, and ecosystems are essential for livelihoods of Pacific people. It has helped shape our ...

Business Intelligence

Fiji tackles energy cost

Dionisia Tabureguci

Yearly, the cost of fuel to run Fiji’s economy gets steeper and there have been some serious efforts lately to explore renewable energy sources to complement national power production. Last month, just days after the Pacific Energy Summit in New Zealand, Fiji’s Department of Energy and its central bank held ...

Two mega economies deepen ties

Dionisia Tabureguci

Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Fiji have again put pen to paper to seal deals that will see them strengthen bi-lateral relations and expand the Pacific region’s biggest free trade area. Following a Fiji trade mission to PNG last month, the two countries have emerged deepening market integration they committed ...

Tourists to salvage islands economies

Soaring tourist revenue will salvage islands economies from a further decline in 2014 as the region recovers from devastation incurred in the aftermath of tropical cyclones and floods of the last two years. Economic growth in the Pacific islands region slumped to 7.3% in 2012 and this is expected to ...

RAMSI Update

PNGDF completes RAMSI duties

The Papua New Guinea Defence Force has completed a 10-year stint under the military component of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands. JOHNSON HONIMAE reports on the farewell of the PNGDF.

Fiji Business Cover story

FISHERIES COUP

Rewritten by Dionisia Tabureguci

After years of effort to get Fiji tuna caught using longline fishing method to carry MSC certification, the first taste for European consumers carrying the coveted label will hit their stores in June. This follows the launch of the Fiji albacore tuna range by global seafood supplier Anova Seafood at ...

Fiji Business

Climate Refugees?

Samisoni Pareti

More coastal villages may have to relocate due to eroding shorelines and coastal flooding

The business of sandalwood

Kameli Rakoko

The revitalisation of the country’s oldest overseas trade is an ambitious project that could shake the very root of the Fijian economy and catapult the earning power of Fijian landowners to a level never experienced before. This could earn the country millions and even billions of dollars in the next ...

We Say

MSG’s growing gravitas in the coming years

‘....what a great organisation to forge such links with than the powerfully emerging Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Although New Zealand and Australia are not there yet with the MSG because of their long-standing commitment to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, it will be impossible to ignore its growing gravitas in ...