CHIEF MANDAOUÉ TAKES OVER CUSTOMARY SENATE IN NEW CALEDONIA

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CHIEF MANDAOUÉ TAKES OVER CUSTOMARY SENATE IN NEW CALEDONIA

NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (September 10, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---Thirty-six-year-old Georges Mandaoué, High Chief of the Ajie Aro traditional area (on the main island), on Saturday officially took office as the Customary Senate's Chairman, Télé Nouvelle Calédonie reports.

In a move seen as consensual, Mandaoué replaces Jean Wanabo (who was from the Loyalty islands group, Northeast of New Caledonia), whose term had ended.

After his election, Mandaoué said, "We just have to find ways to make it possible to preserve tradition while allowing for development, especially on those custom lands.

"Custom is like a boat. Before, there were only paddles and sails. Nowadays, there are more modern tools. And with all these changes, the old ones need the young ones and their knowledge. But the young ones also need the old, because their knowledge of custom is very important. In fact, these two complement each other," Mandaoué told Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes.

The handing-over ceremony from the old Chief to the new one took place as part of the second Congress of the Kanak Country, at the Tjibaou Cultural Center (near Nouméa).

The Customary Senate was created three years ago, a direct consequence of the signing of the Nouméa Accord, which for the first time stressed the importance of Kanak identity.

It consists of 16 members, all High Chiefs in their respective areas, who are elected to six-year terms and have to elect a new Chairman each year.

According to the Nouméa Accord, the Customary Senate must be consulted in all matters pertaining to the Kanak traditional identity and related symbols, traditional land tenure and customary civil status.

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