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Pacific news in brief

Friday 12 August 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional


Pacific news in brief
Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai underwater volcano on January 15, 2022 Photo: Tonga Geological Services

American Samoa still feeling tremors, drop in crime in Tonga, and independence leader says Tahitians not beggars

The US Geological Survey and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is on its way to American Samoa to monitor tremors still being felt in the Manu'a islands.

Director of homeland security, Samana Semo Ve'ave'a, said a team also would be arriving next week to install seismic monitoring equipment in Manu'a waters.

Small tremors continued to be felt last night at Fitiuta village - the first being reported on Tuesday afternoon with locals attributing the shaking to the underwater Vailulu'u seamount near Ta'u island.

People in Olosega have also reported hearing roaring and deep pitched tones as well as feeling quick tremors.

People throughout American Samoa are being advised to head for higher ground if they feel a strong or lengthy earthquake, see a sudden rise or fall of the ocean, or hear a loud roar from the ocean.

New tugboats for Manu'a island group

American Samoa's government has allocated $US6.5 million for two tugboats and two landing craft units to improve ocean transportation for the territory's Manu'a island group.

The government has started the process of buying the tugboats, and the landing craft units will be purchased afterwards.

The funding has come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

The Department of Port Administration says that transportation is an essential aspect of business operations in Manu'a and overall economic development.

The government currently has a passenger ferry which also carries cargo between the main island of Tutuila and the Manu'a island group.

There is a limited number of vessels that can adequately navigate the wharfs in these islands.

Covid leads to drop in crime in Tonga

Tonga police are reporting a decrease in crime compared to previous years.

Covid lockdowns and border closures have impacted social activities and have been widely attributed as the reason for the lull.

Tonga Police Commissioner Shane McLennan said police are not being complacent as the Kingdom begins reopening its borders and the community becomes more active.

"Part of our major challenges at the moment is because our communities have been in lockdown and now borders are opening are reopening gradually, so the challenges for us is also to be out there, making sure our roads are safe, our homes are safe and our communities are safe," he said.

Homes being built for those made homeless by eruption

Home improvement charity, Habitat for Humanity, will train and assist 20 carpentry students to build new homes for families in Tonga left homeless by tsunami waves generated by January's volcanic eruption.

The students from the Tonga Institute of Science and Technology will receive hands-on training on building resillient homes.

Habitat for Humanity Chief Executive Officer Alan Thorp said 12 new homes will be rebuilt across Tongatapu, 'Eua and Ha'apai.

The charity has assisted in repairing and building over 800 homes in Tonga since 2016.

French Polynesians 'not beggars' says independence leader

French Polynesia's pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru said he is against accepting French funding towards lowering food costs for the poor.

He commented after the territory's members of the French Senate secured a $US4 million allocation from France to its overseas territories.

Temaru said Polynesians are not beggars, describing the senators who belong to the ruling Tapura Huiraatira party as accomplices of a weak government.

He said the allocation will be for junk food, while French Polynesia should develop local agriculture.

Temaru also urged the senators to engage with the territory's members of the French National Assembly who are all members of his Tavini Huiraatira party.

He also praised the efforts of the Maohi Protestant Church which has been criticised by the government after the church synod called for a sovereign Maohi government.

Boost to security at Samoa's main airport

Security at Samoa's Faleolo International Airport has been given a boost with a new airport ID card system.

The Samoa Observer is reporting that Samoa is the first recipient of the nine countries earmarked for the new technology courtesy of the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.

The security upgrade is funded through the Pacific Security Fund to ensure that regional aviation activities have the highest level of safety and security.