Regional

27th January

Fijian authorities quarantine ill Chinese nationals

A group of six Chinese nationals from the Fujian province are in quarantine in Nadi as the Ministry of Health carries out investigations on their health. They were denied entry into Samoa yesterday and were sent...

25th January

Bigger plane, more Pacific destinations for Samoa Airways

Samoa’s Minister for Public Enterprise says the country’s national airline will replace the aircraft it uses between the two Samoas with a larger plane and it will open new routes to other countries in the region. Lautafi Fio Purcell, the minister responsible for Samoa Airways, told parliament the airline plans to replace the current 19...

CNMI intercepts $US481K worth of meth in tubes

Law enforcement officials in the Northern Marianas (CNMI) have intercepted crystal methamphetamine or ‘ice’ hidden in silicon tubes inside a shipping container from China. The CNMI Division of Customs said over a kilogramme of the highly addictive stimulant were discovered during a routine inspection and had an estimated street value of $US481,000. The drugs were...

Celebrating 30 years of broadcasting in the Pacific

Today marks the 30-year anniversary of RNZ Pacific, formerly called RNZ International. On 24 January 1990, Radio New Zealand International beamed into the Pacific, on a new 100 kilowatt transmitter. New Zealand has had a short-wave service to the Pacific since 1948. The station broadcast on two 7.5kw transmitters from Titahi Bay, which had been...

Marshall Islands bans direct travel from China

Majuro – In the midst of mounting global concern about a coronavirus that officials in China say has caused the deaths 15 more people, the Marshall Islands issued a travel advisory Friday night banning travelers coming directly from the People’s Republic of China, where the virus originated. “Any traveler with travel originating from or transiting...

Australia starts probe into bushfire air tanker crash that killed three Americans

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Investigations are underway into the crash of a C-130 Hercules air tanker that was fighting bushfires in Australia’s alpine region, a state fire official said on Friday, with the state in mourning for three men killed in the accident a day earlier. The premier of the state of New South Wales (NSW)...

24th January

Tokelau prepares to head to the polls

Residents of Tokelau are heading to the polls on Thursday to elect the territory’s tenth government. Tokelau residents on the atolls of Fakaofo, Nukunonu and Atafu – as well as tagata Tokelau based in Apia, Samoa – are eligible to cast votes. In his final duty as Ulu o Tokelau, Kelihiano Kalolo on behalf of...

New Caledonia screens China travellers for new virus

New Caledonia has begun checking on travellers in response to the coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Anyone who arrived at Noumea’s international airport after having been to China in the past month is being contacted by the health authorities. Thermal cameras are being installed to screen passengers due to arrive on Sunday’s...

Canadian waterbomber plane crashes while fighting Australia bushfires, three dead

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A Canadian-owned C-130 Hercules air tanker crashed while fighting bushfires in Australia’s alpine region on Thursday, killing all three of its crew, authorities said. The victims were American residents, Australian authorities said, adding that they did not immediately know why the plane crashed while carrying a load of fire retardant. “Tragically, there...

Global airlines on high alert as virus outbreak spreads

Here’s an explainer on the airline industry’s response to the outbreak so far and its potential financial exposure compared to SARS in 2003, which killed nearly 800 people: WHAT IS THE EXPECTED FINANCIAL IMPACT ON AIRLINES? The biggest concern is a sharp drop in travel demand if the virus becomes a pandemic. During the height...

Vanuatu Parliament dissolves ahead of election

Vanuatu’s Parliament has dissolved ahead of the country’s general election in March. This week also marks the beginning of a period for candidates to register for the election, the first since a constitutional crisis of 2015. At the stroke of midnight last night, Prime Minister Charlot Salwai achieved the rarest of feats in Vanuatu –...

Indonesia appoints new roving ambassador in the Pacific

Indonesia has appointed one of its main regional heads of mission to a new role as roving ambassador in the Pacific. Tantowi Yahya, the ambassador to New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga, is now also the Indonesian Ambassador to the Pacific. The Wellington-based diplomat said his new role was aimed at increasing Indonesia’s presence in the...

Tahiti president in the dark about Hao fish farm launch date

French Polynesia’s president Edouard Fritch says he has no date for when the Chinese company Tahiti Nui Ocean Foods will start work on its planned fish farm on Hao. Speaking on local television after visiting Hao, Mr Fritch said his government acceded to the requests for the renewal of the construction permits after the company...

UN ruling on climate migration sets precedent – Amnesty

A United Nations ruling should push governments to address the issue of climate migration, says a human rights researcher. The UN Human Rights Committee has said people should not be forced to return to countries where their lives might be immediately threatened by climate change. The non-binding ruling comes after an i-Kiribati man brought a case against...

MP calls for inquiry into Samoa’s measles epidemic

Samoan Opposition MP Olo Fiti Va’ai has opened Parliament’s debate on the current supplementary budget, repeating his call for the government to launch an inquiry into the measles epidemic, which cost 83 lives. Olo first made the call in December through local media, apologising on behalf of Parliament and telling the people of Samoa that the...

Moves under way to introduce healthier foods to Samoan markets

Samoa’s main markets in Apia will soon have vendors selling nutritious food as part of an initiative to introduce healthy eating. The Savalalo market has been selected for the first phase of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) project because of the popularity of stalls selling fast food and sugary drinks there. A number of...

PNG police MOU with mining company concerning – academic

A Papua New Guinean academic and lawyer says a new memorandum of agreement signed by police and an Australian miner sends the wrong message to the public. PNG police commissioner David Manning this week announced that police would work together with Morobe Consolidated Goldfields to address law and order issues in the Wau/Bulolo area of...

Marshall Islands dengue outbreak: ‘We’re fighting a war here’

The hospital in Majuro is overflowing, its doctors exhausted, its wards strained, budgets withered, and no end in sight. Every day, dozens more patients are wheeled in to wait in corridors. A dengue fever outbreak in the Marshall Islands has entered its sixth month and despite border restrictions, mass spraying operations, countrywide cleanups and awareness...

Signs of influx of West Papuans to PNG

There are signs of an influx of West Papuans into Papua New Guinea amid a protracted conflict across the border. Since 2018, there’s been a surge of violent exchanges between the West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces in Papua province. Thousands of West Papuans have been displaced from the conflict’s epicentre in the...

Grandmother pleads for help to bring grandson to Fiji

The mother of a man found dead in his South Auckland home last month is pleading with New Zealand authorities to help bring his son to Fiji. On December 30, Riki Nath, 34, was found in the garage and his wife Sherine Nath, 32, was found dead in the bedroom of their Papatoetoe home near her critically-injured...

Pacific countries, shaken by measles, on alert for coronavirus

Countries across the Pacific are monitoring their borders in an effort to stave off any cases of coronavirus. The new virus, which started in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has spread rapidly across China and to other countries, so far killing 17 people. Several Pacific countries have announced they are increasing monitoring at their borders. Thermal cameras...

21st January

CNMI parents urged to be on alert after attempted kidnappings

A spate of kidnapping attempts in the Northern Marianas has resulted in calls for parents or guardians to accompany their children to and at school bus stops. Aside from waiting for buses to arrive, Education Commissioner Alfred Ada and the Department of Public Safety also asked parents to warn children about the danger of talking...

Seaweed may be key to protecting coral from climate change – NZ study

A common seaweed could throw a lifeline to precious coral reefs, according to a new study from Victoria University of Wellington. This seaweed – called coralline algae – glues reefs together and helps protect them from erosion. Marine biologist Dr Christopher Cornwall said without it, reefs as we know it wouldn’t exist. In a new...

Cyclone Tino: 3000 without power in Tonga’s Ha’apai group

About 3000 people remain without power in Tonga’s Ha’apai group because of damage inflicted by Cyclone Tino over the weekend. The storm, which reached category three cyclone status, wreaked havoc in parts of the central South Pacific over the past week. Ha’apai’s governor, the Reverend Mohenoa Puloka, said while damage to housing had been minimal...

PNG competition body says no to Air Niugini codeshare bid

A request by Papua New Guinea’s national carrier to codeshare with Philippine Airlines has been turned down. PNG’s Independent Consumer and Competition Commission refused Air Niugini’s request to codeshare on the Port Moresby to Manila route. The newspaper, The National, reports that the commission deemed that the codeshare arrangement would have undermined the level of market...

Two police officers shot and killed in Hawaii

A gunman is being sought in Hawaii after two police officers were shot and killed near a popular tourist area. Hawaii Public Radio reports officers had responded to an assault callout in Waikiki Beach when a man opened fire. The man is also believed to have set fire to the house he was in, and the...

Support among Bougainville MPs for constitutional changes – Cabinet minister

A Bougainville Cabinet minister says there is overwhelming support among MPs for two constitutional changes being planned. The Bougainville Government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region wants to retain the three parliamentary seats set aside for veterans from the civil war crisis. These seats are set to be abolished ahead of this year’s election,...

Australia Defence Force briefs Fijian soldiers

REPUBLIC of the Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) personnel were deployed to the ground today to assist with the bushfire crisis in Australia. The 54 personnel who are members of the engineering team were briefed by the Australian Defence Forces on burnt tree clearing. The Fijian Government stated that it stood ready to assist its Australian...

Australian bushfires fires hit coal output, conditions to worsen

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Mining giant BHP Group (BHP.AX) said on Tuesday that poor air quality caused by smoke from Australia’s bushfires is hurting coal production, as authorities cautioned a reprieve from hazardous fire conditions could end within days. The warning from the world’s biggest miner underscores how an unusually long bushfire season that has scorched...

Claim ‘China speaks for Tonga’ at UN criticised

A New Zealand-based Tongan lawyer, Nalesoni Tupou, is questioning China’s claim it could speak for or represent Tonga at the United Nations (UN). That comes after Tonga lost its right to vote because of outstanding fees. Those fees have since been repaid with Tonga’s chief secretary, Edgar Cocker, saying there had been an administrative glitch. At a...

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