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

70 years strong

THE Pacific Community marks 70 years of service to the region this month in a quiet way in Noumea, New Caledonia. It is fitting that an organisation with humble beginnings should celebrate such a milestone in a subdued fashion, eyes firmly focussed on the work that remains to be done to develop people, health, agriculture, shipping and aviation.

Born as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in 1947, the organisation has stood alongside the nations of the region in their journey as colonies towards independence and later as sovereign nations. Of course there are Pacific territories which remain colonies, some of them by choice. Others, while independent, face various political challenges from benign dictatorships to failing economies, coastal degradation and Non-Communicable diseases.

Therefore it is fitting that the Pacific Community’s two main offices are in New Caledonia – a French overseas territory – and Fiji, one of the region’s longest independent nations. For Noumea and Suva represent in their own ways the best and worst of what the Pacific has to offer.

Each is a mixture of the best and the worst. Each offers an insight into the tremendous possibilities which exist for Pacific economies if there is a political will to seize opportunities and forge pathways towards a future which will benefit the people. Islands Business is proud to be associated with the Pacific Community through our coverage and support of key conferences on Non-Communicable Disease, climate change and sustainable fisheries. 70 years strong

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Top quality air

SO the Solomon Islands has the cleanest air in the world according to a World Health Organization report released last month. In fact the report states that the air in the Solomons has the least pollution or foreign particles per square inch.

Even New Zealand, long seen as the cleanest country in the region does not have air as clean as that in the Happy Isles. The declaration is a huge boost for the Solomons which wants to attract more visitors to its untouched beauty in the islands – inland and also along the coast.

One United Nations official from Indonesia was recently heard commenting at a regional event that he was pleasantly surprised by the breath-taking beauty of destinations outside the capital, Honiara. And that is the unfortunate truth. Honiara is a dirty town plagued by traffic congestion, rubbish, mosquitoes and the ubiquitous betel nut splotches on the roads and walls. But a flight to any of the islands is like stepping into a completely different world.

Luscious, dense, green forests and crystal clear waters lie just 30 minutes away from the main island. 

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Lead by example

IN April 1841 a French priest was murdered in the prime of his life on the island of Futuna. Pierre Louis Marie Chanel preached a message of lovå e, peace and obedience as he attempted to spread Christianity in a land half a world away from the place of his birth.

As Chanel preached his message and started to convert the native population, he became a threat to the ruling warlords and traditional priests. The biggest threat the cleric posed, however, was that he lives what he preached. Chanel was an example of walking the talk in a land where the rulers brooked no question of their sometimes violent authority and unreasonable demands.

So much was he respected in a land controlled at the time by warlords and traditional priests that the Frenchman became a threat to King Niuliki who demanded to know why his people chose to follow the new religion and its missionary. The response came from none other than Meitala, his son who said Chanel’s message was not only good but that the priest was true to what he preached.

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A tale of two magazines

IN April 2015 the owners of Front Page Limited bought Islands Business magazine from the Godfrey Scoular and the Estate of the Late Robert Keith-Reid. The decision was not easy, given the media landscape in Fiji and the complexities of running a regional entity – including high transportation and production costs.

But two years later we continue to publish Islands Business and have recently signed a three-year contract to provide the in-flight magazine for Solomon Airlines. We are honoured to produce Solomons, especially in this, the 75th anniversary of the Battle for Guadalcanal which was one of the turning points of World War II.

Many Pacific islanders gave their lives to stem the tide of imperialism which threatened to swamp the Pacific. Among them were brave men and women from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga and the governing nations of Australia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Among those who paid the ultimate price as the Pacific fought back was Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu VC of Yacata, Cakaudrove in Fiji’s north.

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The journey of life

THOUSANDS of Catholics across the Pacific celebrated Ash Wednesday this month as they began preparations for Easter. While this is a mainly Catholic tradition, more Christian denominations now take part in this ancient rite.

It marks the start of a 40-day journey which ends with the remembrance of Jesus Christ’s death on a cross some 2000 years ago and his resurrection three days later. That resurrection is the cornerstone of Christianity. Without that resurrection, Christians have no basis for their belief.

For it is by that death and resurrection that Christ conquered death and opened the doors of salvation to the world just as he stretched out his arms on the cross of Calvary in an eternal sign of acceptance of all. Christ’s gift was all-inclusive, without restrictions of ethnicity, colour or political belief. In 40 days Christians – Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox and Pentecostal – will gather in faith as they have since that first Easter to celebrate death, life and forgiveness.

Christians believe that the death and resurrection allow all people to be absolved of their sins if they so choose. But to seek absolution, we must first look within ourselves and realise how in so many ways we have hurt people through our words and deeds.

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