NEWS FROM FRENCH POLYNESIA AND NEW CALEDONIA

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July 23, 1999

PINA News Online

OUTRIGGER 200-ROOM HOTEL OPENS IN TAHITI

PAPEETE, French Polynesia---Tahiti's latest four-star hotel complex, the "Outrigger," a joint venture between Hawai‘i’s Outrigger organization and French Polynesian businessman Louis Wane, opened here on Friday, the daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti reported.

The 200-room, three restaurant complex is close to Tahiti's international airport at Faa'a and targets the luxury market in the French Territory. A six-billion French Pacific Francs (CFP) (US$ 60 million) investment, it is owned by the Hawaii-based Outrigger group of companies and managed by Wayne Sterling, from Oahu island (Hawai‘i).

The site was once the location of the famous "Hotel Tahiti," which ceased operation two years ago.

"We aim to extend the current average length of stay for tourists here (about two days) to the maximum," Sterling said.

Under a bill passed by the French Parliament in 1986, the new hotel project was built benefiting from significant tax reductions.

Although the first targeted market for the hotel is the American one, Sterling believes European tourists could also form a major part of the hotel’s visitors, as well as locals.

Another Outrigger hotel, with 106 bungalows and costing an estimated 3.5 billion CFP to build, is scheduled to open on Tahiti's sister island, Moorea, in May or June 2000, Sterling pointed out. And another one could open later on world-famous Bora Bora atoll, he added.

DEAD DOLPHIN BRUSHED ASHORE IN AUSTRAL ISLANDS, ANOTHER ONE TO BE BORN SOON

PAPEETE, French Polynesia---A dead dolphin came ashore Thursday at Haramea beach (Tubuai Island, Australs group, South of here), the daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti reported.

Numerous scratches were found on the dead mammal's body, on its stomach and near its tail, indicating that it could have been caught in strong currents and thrown onto the nearby reef.

Meanwhile, at Moorea island's "Dolphin Quest" resort, which specializes in dolphin shows, 21-year old female Hina is about to give birth, after nine months of pregnancy, La Dépêche reported.

The park’s veterinarian, Dr. Cécile Gaspar, is closely monitoring Hina.

"Hina arrived here in August 1996. She came from the U.S. Navy and she never gave birth before. Since she's been pregnant, we've been watching her diet very closely. The baby should weight 10 to 15 kilograms (22-33 pounds) at birth," Gaspar predicts.

"She should give birth very soon. Already, I've observed contractions. When it gets close, she'll probably stop eating, and this will mean Hina will give birth." Gaspar's main worry, however, is whether the baby dolphin will appear head or tail first.

"We'll be there, very near, but not underwater, to let her give birth in peace. According to our ultrasound images, we had planned a birth for July 26. Now we're waiting."

SPREP TO MEET WITH REGIONAL DEPARTMENT HEADS IN FRENCH POLYNESIA NEXT WEEK

PAPEETE, French Polynesia---The South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) will meet in French Polynesia with regional meteorological office department heads, the daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti reported.

The meeting, to take place 28-30 July, is to be preceded by a two-day workshop focusing on the CLIPS (Climate Predictions and Services), coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

CLIPS’ goal is to use meteorological information to better plan socio-economical development and structure.

NEW GARBAGE DUMP WORKS FROZEN IN PAPEETE

PAPEETE, French Polynesia---Garbage in the French Territory's capital, Papeete, is piling up after a court in Paris ruled that work on setting up a new disposal facility in the suburbs should be halted, RFO-radio reported.

The site, Paihoro, is being contested by the environmental association Taravoa Nui Ma, which brought the matter to court.

A Paris administrative tribunal first gave a go-ahead for the project last April, but a Noumea tribunal Wednesday invalidated the Paris decision and froze the project, hours before the French Polynesian government had announced the resumption of work by way of a new territorial decree.

Meanwhile, Taravoa Nui Ma has sent letters to the French High Commissioner in Papeete and the Paris prosecution head, demanding that the Noumea court ruling be respected by the territorial government.

"The government has decided to postpone its decision (to create the site) in order to display goodwill and its concern for appeasement," the ministry said in a release.

An appeal case is expected to be heard in Paris on August 10.

LAFLEUR CLIMBS BARRICADES IN ATTEMPT TO END STRIKE

NOUMEA, New Caledonia---Anti-independence and RPCR (Rally for Caledonia within the French Republic) President Jacques Lafleur on Thursday climbed barricades at a Cellocal picketing site in an attempt to end a two-month strike in one of his son's factories, RFO-radio reported.

Arguing that courts had ruled on the case, he went to the site and then proceeded to climb a locked fence with the help of his bodyguards, triggering heavy protests and insults from the strikers.

Police reinforcements monitored the situation.

"But I'm also the President of this province," he shouted at them. "This is like living in a totalitarian regime," Lafleur went on.

"Look who's talking," USOENC Secretary General Didier Guénan replied. The altercation was recorded and aired by RFO. The action also affects Cellocal's two sister companies in Noumea, Sofraplast and Sotrapa, all belonging to the Lafleur family.

On Tuesday, a court in Noumea ruled pickets set up by the USOENC union, paralyzing Cellocal company, should be removed "forcibly, if need be."

"We're here in a company that belongs to us. There was a court ruling on this case allowing us to free the place, and now the chains on the gates are even thicker. I believe this is dangerous for New Caledonia's economy, so I tried to get in here to explain to them that we now had accepted a resumption of talks," Lafleur later said in an interview with RFO.

"This is not (Lafleur's) place. It's obvious this is only creating tensions and we're going straight into the wall. I really regret what is happening right now. It could have been spared," Guénan told journalists.

USOENC was demanding a resumption of talks with the management of Cellocal (a company manufacturing wrapping and plastic consumables). Noumea's tribunal this week ordered that "every person" should be evacuated from the premises of the company and "every device forbidding the free access (to the company) by either persons or vehicles." The court also pointed out that "usage of public force is required, if need be."

The strike, which was triggered by the sacking of some 37 employees, which USOENC demanded be reinstated, started last May 25.

But talks with the management collapsed.

On July 9, pickets were removed by police for the first time.

Since Tuesday, about 100 strikers and supporters have locked themselves inside the buildings, while about 30 others who disapprove of the move are staying outside.

Mediators could be appointed soon, a French High Commission in New Caledonia spokesman said.

NEW CALEDONIA OPEN: NEW ZEALANDER RICHARD LEE AND AUSTRALIAN NEIL KERRY SHARE LEAD

NOUMEA, New Caledonia---New Zealander Richard Lee and Australian Neil Kerry were leading on Thursday in New Caledonia's international golf open, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reported.

Lee and Kerry both scored 67 (5 under par) at the 18-hole course in Dumbea (Noumea suburbs). They are closely followed by Australians Michael Etherington, Steve Moriarty, David Watson and Darin Anderson (69).

Results (professionals, first round, men):

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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