Apr 13, 2021 Last Updated 11:41 PM, Apr 12, 2021

Deaths and no water

TWO small children have died of malnutrition in Tanna, there are seven deaths of children under 12 in Santo that may be linked to the drought and no water is available during the day in Luganville. Those are some of the consequences of the early stages of the mega El Niño drought in Vanuatu.
 
Much of the country is now affected and in the worst areas there is simply no water at all and often very little food. The worst hit islands are Tanna, Tongua, Santo, Nguna, Pele and the Shepherds group. Outside of the main towns people are leaving their homes to search for water sources to survive the drought. Government officials said it is becoming harder for people to access water on some of the islands as common water sources are drying out.
 
“Clean drinking water will be harder to fetch and less available and cattle and crops are already suffering,” said one government officer. This looks like being a bigger disaster than Pam and it is much more widespread.” The director of Geology, Mines and Water Resources, Erickson Sammy, the leader of the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) cluster that was doing assessments across the country, said they had submitted a response plan to the National Disaster Management Office to help seek funds.
 
 
 
 
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El Nino It'sNot Over

FROM the highlands of Papua New Guinea in the western Pacific to the salad bowl on the southern coast of Fiji’s main island in the central Pacific, the long spell of dry weather is taking its toll. Cash crops and vegetables are withering in the heat, creeks are running dry and Vanuatu has confirmed cases of malnutrition. Our special expose on the impact of the drought brought about by what meteorologists say is the El Nina phenomenon focuses on the four larger Melanesian countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. While this unusual weather pattern is not new to the Pacific, our expose reveals the disturbing trend of the countries’ state of unpreparedness to tackle the climatic crisis. To date, only PNG has launched a major relief exercise, while disaster management agencies in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji are still at a loss, it seems on what their responses should be 

SOME million plus people continued to endure severe El Nino-induced weather conditions in Papua New Guinea as the government announced its latest support measures on top of its ongoing supply of relief aid that will be enhanced with further funding assistance by the Australia Government. While some level of short term reprieve have been provided for some of those affected in their food and water supplies, the situation remains critical with the PNG National Weather Service (NWS) indicating that the El Nino phenomenon will continue to strengthen and is expected to last until March 2016. The effects are expected to surpass the 1997- 98 event - the strongest El Nino on record - that adversely affected about 3 million people in PNG, the NWS said.

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Back to the future

How traditional Pacific navigators proved Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki theory wrong

UNDER the gaze of the night stars, Tua Pittman comes alive with the spirit of his ancestors and navigates across the vast space of ocean that he calls home. It is a journey that is as ancient as it is from the future.

With the bright clear four stars called Hanaiakamalama – shaped as a cross and sometimes kite above him as his guide – the Cook Islander steers the vaka moana using his points of reference in the heavens. His bearing is New Caledonia. Guadalcanal fell far behind him as the Marumaru Atua, one of seven modern ocean-going canoes built in New Zealand in 2009, climbs, creaks, and dips in the ocean swell on this 2012 voyage.

Like his forebears who used celestial navigation to guide their ocean canoes from Tahiti westwards to the Cooks and Tonga and eventually south to New Zealand, he pays attention to the direction of the wind and the wave patterns to determine the direction the bow should point.

Tua believes Pacific Islanders used their traditional knowledge to travel from island to island and may have inhibited the Americas and not otherwise as preached by 19th century theorists. Chief among them was Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl who rejected the West-to-East migration, which Maori scholar Te Rangi Hiroa, known better as Sir Peter Buck, proved by tracing oral traditions of voyaging in the Pacific.

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THE Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Siasi Uesiliana Tau’ataina ‘o Tonga) has overseas congregations in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Fiji. It is the largest Christian denomination in the kingdom with its closest threat to membership coming from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. When the first Methodist missionaries arrived in Tonga in 1822 they went about the work of evangelisation in the Friendly Islands and launched forays with local converts into neighbouring Fiji. In 1885 the local church split with King Tupou I becoming the constitutional head. An attempt to heal the rift in 1924 led to a further split so that from the original church there are three distinct entities – the FWCC, the Constitutional Church of Tonga and the Free Church of Tonga. Like its Fijian counterpart, Tonga was originally a conference within the Methodist Church of Australasia.

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Church ‘crucified’

The flock see RED

THE financial woes of Tonga’s Free Wesleyan Church drew so much attention that the elite Australian commercial law firm of Clayton Utz looked at the issue in detail. Founded 1833, it is one of the Big Six law firms in Australia, and is consistently ranked as one of the most prestigious firms in the Asia-Pacific region.

This article by Orla McCoy looks at what it described as a court, where possible, taking allegedly unconscionable interest rates on loans into account when exercising its discretion in an insolvency matter. The circumstances in Re Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga in Australia were as follows: The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (the Church) was an association incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 (NSW). It wanted to build a church for its adherents in Sydney. To obtain funds to enable the completion of that project (having exhausted other sources), the Church borrowed $950,000 from Phoenix Lacquers & Paints (Phoenix).

The Phoenix loan was secured by second ranking securities and personal guarantees. Importantly, the interest rate was “between 5% and 7% per month, compounding monthly,” equivalent to a simple interest rate of 22% per month. Within three and a half years, the Church owed $9.5 million to Phoenix.

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