NEWS FROM FRENCH POLYNESIA AND NEW CALEDONIA

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Wednesday, July 21, 1999
PINA Nius Online

FRENCH POLYNESIA PLANS BIGGEST OUTRIGGER CANOE RACE IN OCTOBER

PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia---French Polynesia is expecting to gather over 170 outrigger canoes, including 26 from Europe, Asia, the Pacific and North America, for this year's eighth "Hawaiki Nui Vaa" '99 race, the French Polynesian President's officials said here on Wednesday.

The Hawaiki Nui Vaa, an outrigger canoe race that takes place annually year, will this year involve participating teams from Hawai‘i, the United States mainland (Los Angeles, San Francisco), Switzerland, Germany (Hamburg), Italy, France, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the Fiji islands (which has confirmed four teams).

This year, the race will take place October 20-22 and will involve four legs in the Iles-sous-le-Vent (West of here), Huahine, Raiatea, Taha'a and Bora Bora, French Polynesian President Gaston Flosse’s adviser Manuel Terai told PINA Nius Online.

Terai has just come back from a trip to Europe, where he and a French Polynesian delegation met with canoe officials from several countries.

Earlier this month, another Polynesian canoe official, Gordon Baff, met with canoe team members in the Fiji islands.

"We're expecting 172 canoes on the water, including some 70 from Tahiti," Terai said.

Each team consists of six persons.

Each day, the outrigger canoes will race for periods ranging from two and a half to four and a half hours.

"This is tough, really high-seas endurance," Terai noted.

Meanwhile, the Tahitian Canoe Federation promises this year's event will be grand.

French Polynesia's education and sports ministry will provide school facilities for use in hosting the participants.

"This year, I really wanted the race to take on an international dimension. So we have sent envoys to every country in the world which is practicing the 'vaa' (outrigger canoe) tradition," President Flosse said in an interview with Radio 1.

"Also, we're encouraging every foreign team to be followed by their respective television services. We know already that television crews from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Japan and Korea will be here to cover the event. This, of course, will be a fantastic promotional operation for our country", Flosse said.

Special chartered flights will be organized from Hawai‘i to French Polynesia, he added.

NEW FRENCH HIGH COMMISSIONER HAS ASPIRATIONS FOR NEW CALEDONIA

NOUMEA, New Caledonia---New Caledonia's new High Commissioner (French government representative), Thierry Lataste, on Tuesday discussed the aspirations he has for the French Territory, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reported here on Wednesday.

Regarding external affairs, Lataste confirmed he would meet soon with delegations from the United Nations and the South Pacific Forum.

"By October, New Caledonia should have obtained observer status within the Forum. We're monitoring this matter very closely, since it is everything we have wished for, that is the inclusion of New Caledonia in the regional organization," Lataste said.

He stressed his main mission locally would be to ensure that the Noumea Accords, which are to gradually grant a wider autonomy to the French territory and lead to independence "15 to 20 years" from now, are properly implemented, including the setting up of necessary institutions.

Lataste, who arrived on Monday to take up his position, made courtesy calls on a wide spectrum of persons in the political arena, including newly-appointed New Caledonian President and Noumea mayor Jean Lèques, anti-independence strongman and RPCR party leader Jacques Lafleur, Congress President Simon Loueckhote, and pro-independence FLNKS President Roch Wamytan.

Lataste was formerly posted in New Caledonia from 1991 to 1994.

"The crises New Caledonia has gone through recently must cease. It's time to go back to a more serene spirit, for New Caledonia's development's sake," Lafleur said after meeting Lataste.

The new French representative was also introduced to the new government in the French territory and will attend its meetings for the first time on Thursday.

He was one of the key persons in the signing of the Noumea Accords (last May 1998).

"Caledonians should be happy that the State is sending here people who know New Caledonia well," Congress President Simon Loueckhote said.

22 NEW CALEDONIAN JUDOKAS TRAIN IN NEW ZEALAND

NOUMEA, New Caledonia---Some 22 judokas from the Dumbea Judo Club (near Noumea) left during the weekend for a week's training in New Zealand, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reported here on Wednesday.

The 13 children and nine adults forming the group are to meet and train with a local judo club there, as part of an exchange program.

Club officials also plan to send a delegation to Japan again this year to take part in the Osawa Cup judo tournament.

46 PROFESSIONAL GOLFERS AT NEW CALEDONIA'S OPEN '99

NOUMEA, New Caledonia---Some 46 professional golfers from New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Fiji, Europe, Tahiti and New Caledonia began competition Wednesday on the 18-hole Dumbea course (near Noumea), the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reported here on Tuesday.

In the US$ 60,000-prize tournament, favorites are Stuart Thomson (who won the Tahiti Open), Ben Burge, Steve Hutchinson (who won the '93 Noumea Open), Anthony Summers, Dominique Barson or Peter Fowler, Les Nouvelles noted.

This bulletin was produced by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA). Editor: Patrick Antoine Decloitre For more information, contact Nina Ratulele, PINA Administrator, at pina@is.com.fj

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