Published daily by the Lowy Institute

Pacific links: Manus, West Papua, booming kava sales, a Tongan skier and Mal Meninga

Pacific links: Manus, West Papua, booming kava sales, a Tongan skier and Mal Meninga
Published 5 Oct 2016 

By Harriet Smith, an intern in the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program.

  • Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato is in Canberra this week discussing the future of the Manus Island detention Centre. He spoke to the ABC about the agenda.
  • Minister Pato has also reiterated that PNG’s position on West Papua will not change, rejecting claims by West Papuan activist Frank Makanuey that the government’s position – that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia – is not in line with public sentiment in PNG.
  • The PNG government is also following up talks concerning a visa-on-arrival agreement with Australia and New Zealand.
  • Dame Carol Kidu has placed the onus on political parties to increase the numbers of women in PNG’s parliament, after noting at the recent State of the Pacific Conference that only 2.7% of MPS are female. (Podcasts from the conference are available here.)
  • French Polynesia’s president Edouard Fritch has dismissed calls for decolonisation at the UN.
  • In Fiji, a pilot project to protect the rights of suspects in police custody will begin soon. It will include video recording of statements to police and the swift provision of legal council.
  • Despite recent research from Baker IDI and UNSW that suggests some World Health Organisation statistics on diabetes in the Pacific Islands may have exaggerated the incidence, Secretariat of the Pacific Community Director-General Colin Tukuitonga says that non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, are still a pressing issue.
  • Scientists from ANU have discovered that the first inhabitants of Vanuatu were from Taiwan and the Philippines, rather than their closer South Pacific neighbors, meaning the modern genetic mix is a result of intermarriage with Papuan peoples.
  • A Tongan skier hoping to represent Tonga in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea has begun a crowdfunding campaign.
  • The booming Pacific kava industry is struggling to enforce quality standards as popularity for kava grows in the West, particularly in the US.
  • Australian Rugby League legend Mal Meninga explored his personal family history in this recent episode (and below) of the SBS program 'Who Do You Think You Are?'. It revealed his family is from the South Seas Island of Tanna in Vanuatu, and were brought to Australia via blackbirding, the coercion and kidnapping of indigenous populations to work as indentured labourers.

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