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Papy John – a life well lived

THE Pacific lost one of its greats on Christmas Day 2016, with the death in Tahiti of John Taroanui Doom, at age 80. From across the political spectrum, Tahitians mourned the loss of the scholar, religious leader and anti-nuclear activist. The government of French Polynesia paid its condolences, stating: “With passion, but with great tolerance and respect for the views of others, John Doom gave his life to defend the Polynesian people.

He was a man of deep humanity, who loved the Polynesian people, their culture and languages.” For Oscar Temaru, “John was a man of letters but also a man of the divine word, above all a humanist and curious about everything. It was this curiosity that led him to witness France’s first atmospheric nuclear test – a monstrosity he immediately recognised.

The anti-nuclear movement found in him a peaceful but committed warrior”. Fortunately, John’s memoirs were published in October last year (A he’e noa i te tau -Mémoires d’une vie partagée). They document a life well lived. One of 12 children, Taroanui Doom was born on 6 May 1936, in Papeete, French Polynesia.

He grew up on the island of Tubuai, in the Austral archipelago. As a young journalist with the Office de radiodiffusion-télévision française (ORTF), John witnessed the first French nuclear test, codename Aldebaran, which exploded into the atmosphere above Moruroa atoll on 2 July 1966. 

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