ANNUAL FRENCH POLYNESIA BLACK PEARL AUCTION ENDS, TOTALS US$ 9.6 MILLION

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FRENCH POLYNESIA NEWS Tuesday, October 19, 1999 PINA Nius Online

PAPEETE, French Polynesia (October 19, 199 - PINA Nius Online)---Some 176 lots of French Polynesia's famous black pearls were sold at the recent Poerava Nui International Auction, resulting in sales totaling 963 million French Pacific Francs (US$ 9.6 million).

During this 22nd Poerava, which was held at the newly built Outrigger Hotel (near Papeete) by the Tahiti Pearl Producers Association, initial bids increased an average 60 percent for the 160,000 pearls sold.

Representatives of some 24 Japanese wholesale pearl dealers took part in the auction.

The average price for a single pearl was estimated at 6,000 CFP, with a price per gram of 3,200 CFP (NOTE: US$ 1 = 109.82 CFP).

Meanwhile, French Polynesian customs at Faa'a International Airport seized 1,669 black pearls, totaling 2.5 kilograms, last weekend.

The pearls were about to be smuggled out of French Polynesia to the United States by three Tahitian brothers.

They were carrying other black pearls, which they declared to customs. But they also carried separate stock. The pearls, packed in small bags, were taped to bodies of the men, from chest to foot, police found after a search.

The three were arrested and the pearls confiscated.

They face a heavy fine and export taxes of about 600,000 CFP for the undeclared goods.

"We have increased our checks on passengers because there is traffic in French Polynesia involving the exchange of pearls for cocaine from the United States," Customs head Gérard Deutscher said.

He also said smuggled pearls affect world market prices, reducing their value.

French Polynesia is the world's second largest exporter of black pearls after Japan. In 1998, black pearls totaling 6.56 kilograms (14.43 pounds) were exported.

 

ECUMENICAL CHURCH WORKSHOP ON AIDS

PAPEETE, French Polynesia (October 19, 199 - PINA Nius Online)--- Churches in French Polynesia have joined together to conduct a workshop aimed at helping priests, pastors and religious social workers better cope with AIDS and HIV victims, RFO-radio reports.

The one-week workshop, which is being conducted by a Swiss woman pastor from the national protestant church in Geneva, is jointly funded by the Pacific Council of Churches, the Geneva-based Ecumenical Council of Churches, the Evangelical Church and the Archdiocese of Papeete.

"Of course we're already active on the social scene, but we have few resources. Our parish representatives were never trained to live and work with AIDS or HIV-infected people," Evangelical Church Secretary General Ralph Tenaore said.

"We have chaplains in hospitals who visit patients. We do have experience with other illnesses, but with AIDS, this is another matter. So our people asked us to explain to them what it is like."

"How do you explain to our parishioners that these people are not lepers? We must live with them. They're just like anyone else."

"So we called this woman from Switzerland who has been working with AIDS-infected people for the past eleven years to help us train our people."

This bulletin was produced by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA). Editor: Patrick Antoine Decloitre E-mail: padec@iname.com 

For more information, contact Nina Ratulele, PINA Administrator, at pina@is.com.fj 

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Damodar Centre, 1st Floor 46 Gordon Street Suva, Republic of the Fiji Islands Tel: (679) 303 623 Fax : (679) 303 943 Postal Address: PINA, Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji Islands

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