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In brief: News from around the Pacific

Wednesday 13 October 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional


Samoa by-elections set for November 12; Former CNMI cop jailed for possessing child pornography; Gender and ethnic pay gaps in New Zealand wide; Thousands of year 12 and 13 students in Fiji will return to classroom next month

Samoa by-elections set for November 12

The Samoa Electoral Commission said polling for seven by-elections will have happen on November 12.

The seven seats became vacant after the petition process resulting from the April general election.

Writs for the by-elections will be issued this Friday with nominations throughout next week.

Campaigning can then begin a week later, running until November 9; pre-polling will start the day after.

Former CNMI cop jailed for possessing child pornography

In the Northern Mariana Islands, a former police officer with the Department of Public Safety, has been sentenced to more than eight years' in prison for possessing child pornography.

Edjay Jaime Sablan was originally charged with one count of child pornography and one count of receipt of child pornography in January this year.

After pleading guilty to one count of child pornography in June, the district court dismissed the second charge.

The indictment said Sablan was found in possession of more than 75 video files of child pornography that he had downloaded over the internet.

It also said Sablan knowingly received child pornography last November.

Gender and ethnic pay gaps in New Zealand wide

Recent gender and ethnic pay gap figures from New Zealand's Council of Trade Unions show that Pasifika women are effectively working free for the rest of the year.

The pay gap between Pasifika women and Pākehā men represents the biggest pay gap in Aotearoa New Zealand.

On average Pasifika women earn 27.4 percent less than Pākehā men - for every $100 earned by a Pākehā man, on average a Pasifika woman only takes home $72.

The Tertiary Education Union's, Sarah Proctor-Thomson, said it's unacceptable that in 2021 an individual's ability to earn money for themselves and their families continues to be shaped by structural racism and unconscious bias.

The Human Rights Commission is conducting an inquiry into what is preventing pay equity between Pasifika workers and the rest of the workforce.

Thousands of year 12 and 13 students in Fiji will return to classroom next month

In Fiji, more than 22-thousand year 12 and 13 students will return to school on November 1 in time to prepare for exams in January.

Fiji's Education Minister, Premila Kumar, said their return to school follows Prime Minister Bainimara's announcement that Fiji has reached 80 percent vaccination of its target population.

Kumar met with school principals and emphasised health protocols must be strictly followed for the safety of students, teachers and school staff including adequate ventilation, avoiding crowded areas, mask wearing and social distancing.

He is also encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated and he says replacement teachers will be provided for schools who have lost teachers because they have not been vaccinated before schools reopen.

NZ govt provides support towards increasing Pasifika vaccinations

The New Zealand government has made $1.1 million available to support Pacific community-led initiatives towards increasing vaccinations.

The Prepare Pacific Community Vaccination Fund is available mainly for Pacific community groups in the Auckland region as well as Pasifika communities around the country.

The Trust, the Cause Collective, is administering the fund and it's CEO Laufa Lui Poe said the money is to provide grants to help vaccination events at Pacific churches, sports clubs and youth groups.

He add it can be used to to help cover set up and transportation costs, and enable Pacific leaders to do what they need to reach their communities.

The Prepare Pacific Vaccination Fund is open until 30 June 2022 unless the funds are distributed before then.