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Pacific News in Brief

Tuesday 26 July 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional

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Pacific News in Brief
HMNZS Wellington Photo: DEFENCE FORCE

America is sending high ranked diplomats to Solomon Islands.

In other news research shows Palau reef heavily polluted with plastics; Tonga shuts prison ward after suspected second suicide; deal to stop industrial action at New Caledonia nickel company expected today; silver lining in storms in Tokelau and New Zealand Navy training and assisting in the Pacific

America sending high ranked diplomats to Solomon Islands

The US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and the U.S ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy will be in Solomon Islands next month to mark the 80 anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.

The fathers of both women fought in Solomon Islands during WW2.

The US delegation will also meet with senior officials "to highlight the enduring relationship between the United States and Solomon Islands" and the opening of a U.S Embassy in Honiara.

This comes as Solomon Islands more closely embraces China.

China has been seeking to boost economic, military and police links with Pacific island nations hungry for foreign investment.

Washington has stressed its historical ties to the Pacific, especially shared sacrifices during World War Two, and has vowed to commit more resources.

Research shows Palau reef heavily polluted with plastics

Studies from Palau's International Coral Reef Center has found the country's reef system is heavily polluted with plastic.

Researchers at the Center said high concentrations of micro-plastics have been found on beaches throughout the nation.

Palau's beaches and reefs have been renown for their pristine state.

Researchers said it's unlikely that there's any area of ocean in the world untouched by plastic pollution.

Tonga shuts prison ward after suspected second suicide

Tonga Police have shutdown the prison ward of one of their district stations and implemented a nationwide review of all departments following the death of a 22-year-old man held in custody on Saturday.

The suspected suicide happened at the Mu'a Police Station after the man had been arrested and held for public intoxication.

It occurred less than three weeks after the death of a 69-year-old man in custody at the same police station, also a suspected suicide.

Tonga Police Commissioner, Shane McLennan, said he is working to prevent the incidents from ever happening again.

Deal to stop industrial action at New Caledonia nickel company expected today

A deal is expected to be signed today in New Caledonia between the Prony Resources nickel company and the main union to avert threatened industrial action.

The union has been at odds with Prony Resources over the hiring of hundreds of foreigners for the construction of a new residue storage facility.

It has said that there are locals available to do the work.

Yesterday, the ferry carrying personnel from Noumea to the plant was delayed by a protest, with the union warning to shut down the site over its misgivings.

However, the public broadcaster said an understanding has been found and a deal will be signed today.

Silver lining in storms in Tokelau

Homes in Tokelau were damaged when wild weather rolled through last week but residents say there is a silver lining: rain.

The general manager for the office of the council of Nukunonu, Asi Pasilio. said large waves damaged low lying areas of one of Tokelau's Atoll, Fakaofo.

She said you can really feel the impacts of climate change.

Pasilio said despite damage to properties, empty water tanks have been topped up by the rain.

She said the situation was pretty serious, with people getting water from public stations.

Residents are still hoping for more rain though, to replenish what are still low stocks.

New Zealand Navy to train and assist in several Pacific countries

Two New Zealand Navy vessels, HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Manawanui are sailing to Tonga today, where the crews will train and assist the local force in its maritime operations.

Tonga is the first of five Pacific nations that the two vessels will support as part of operation Mahi Tahi.

Commanding officer on Manawanui, John Mcqueen, said the aim is to enhance the capabilities of these island countries.

"We'll be conducting a number of activities in Niue, Tonga, Fiji, Tuvalu and the Tokelaus so alot of that is to do with partnering with our pacific friends and nations into assisting them with activities that they would not be able to otherwise unsupproted and with ourselves," he said.