New Caledonia

Vanuatu opposition calls for engagement with New Caledonia loyalists

New Caledonia last week narrowly rejected independence from France, but a third referendum is likely in 2022.

Ralph Regenvanu, who is a staunch advocate for decolonisation in the region, says New Caledonia is Vanuatu's closest neighbour and home to the largest group of ni-Vanuatu abroad.

He says New Caledonia's independence is the goal of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, for which it was set up.

"We also need to convince the anti-independence lobby that New Caledonia can be a viable state in the Pacific like the other states in the Pacific," he said.

Pacific churches to meet in New Caledonia during 2022 referendum

The pro-independence FLNKS movement said it would exercise its right under the Noumea Accord to call the final and third vote in 2022 amid a push by the rival side to get France to thwart it.

Ten days ago, 46 percent voted for independence, fuelling expectations that fewer abstentions among Kanak voters next time will see the pro-independence camp win.

Netani Rika, of the Pacific Conference of Churches secretariat in Suva, said the PCC was working with the Protestant church in New Caledonia.

New Caledonia again rejects independence from France

Just over 53 percent of the electorate opted for the status quo in the second of three possible referendums under the Noumea Accord.

180,000 voters, who are on a roll restricted to indigenous Kanaks and long-term residents, were allowed to decide whether the territory should assume full sovereignty.

The results showed a sharp divide between the two camps, with some communes voting with more than 90 percent either for or against independence.

Fire destroys traditional building at New Caledonia's Kanak Senate

Firefighters rushed to the site in Nouville outside Noumea but failed to prevent the building's destruction.

The public prosecutor said a 29-year-old man Kanak was arrested and confessed to using a lighter to set the structure ablaze.

The man was reportedly upset with Kanak leaders over a lack of support to get electricity to a nearby shantytown.

He was reportedly also drunk at the time

He is due to be tried on Tuesday and risks to be jailed for up to 10 years.

New Caledonia lifts remaining Covid-19 restrictions

This means that from Monday meetings of any size as well as all sports competitions are again allowed.

The wearing of masks on public transport can be discontinued and bars and restaurants no longer need to register patrons.

The president Thierry Santa said there was no local circulation of the virus and that all 21 cases were imported.

One person is still in hospital care.

The border remains closed except for flights from Wallis and Futuna which is the only French-run territory without any Covid-19 case.

New Caledonia island flight ban extended until Tuesday

The island's chiefs reconfirmed their decision to prevent Air Caledonie from landing because the carrier hiked the return fare for Noumea flights by $US7.

The chiefs on neighbouring Lifou started the action against Air Caledonie by closing the island's airport two weeks ago.

The fare protest has not been extended to Ouvea or the Isle of Pines.

The chiefs argued that islanders should not be charged more but that shareholders should make up for the airline's woes.

Another New Caledonia airport hit by protest

The domestic carrier Air Caledonie raised its return fares from Noumea by almost $US7 dollars when it restarted its service earlier this month.

The airline was grounded since March because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The chiefs on Lifou already forced the island's airport to close last Friday, saying it would remain shut until the fare hike was rescinded.

They said the shareholders should wear the extra costs, and not the island's population.

The chiefs on Mare said they would block flights until there was a compromise.

Vanuatu to get more cyclone aid from New Caledonia

The French Red Cross is readying 11.5 tons of supplies in Noumea for shipping on Wednesday to help people in the central islands of Pentecost, Espiritu Santo and Ambae, which were hardest hit by Cyclone Harold.

The consignment will include 1000 tarpaulins, 450 shelter kits and 200 hygiene kits.

The aid is being made available through the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs' Crisis and Support Centre.

Earlier, the French military sent a cargo plane with more than two tonnes of emergency supplies from its base in New Caledonia to Port Vila.

Humanitarian supplies for cyclone-hit Vanuatu arrive from New Caledonia

A Casa air force plane carried a consignment of kits for those made homeless by last week's category five storm which ravaged the central islands of Pentecost, Espiritu Santo and Ambae.

According to the Vanuatu Red Cross, most people in the disaster zone have lost their homes.

The kits were made up of tents, basic kitchen items which had been held in stock by the Red Cross in Noumea as part of the emergency support provided by France, Australia and New Zealand.

New Caledonia extends Covid-19 lockdown

The decision was announced after talks involving medical experts, the French High Commission, the government and the customary Senate.

The extension was the second time that a week had been added to the original lockdown declared on 19 March.

From 20 April the emergency measures will be changed, with details of what will be eased to be announced in the course of next week.

The customary Senate had been in favour of extending the restrictions for longer while some leaders in the mainly Kanak Loyalty Islands province asked for the terms of confinement to be relaxed.