Pacific Scoop

Pacific Islands Forum 2011 in images – from suits to protesters

Men in suits

1. "Sea of suits". Image portfolio: © Karen Abplanalp

Pacific Scoop:
Portfolio – By Karen Abplanalp

I knew to expect a lot of men in suits at the Pacific Islands Forum last week yet it was still shocking to see so many – mainly because it shows the lack of women in leadership roles in all of the countries represented.

Portrayed in the “sea of suits” (from left) above are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, N Z Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, Auckland mayor Len Brown and other dignitaries at the opening ceremony of the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland.

This contrasted enormously with the dancers.

Forum dancers

2. Ta'akoka dance troupe from the Cook Islands performing at the Pacific Showcase opening in the Cloud, Queens Wharf, Auckland. Image portfolio: © Karen Abplanalp

Pacific Showacse

3. Opening the Pacific Showcase at the Cloud on Queens Wharf. Image portfolio: © Karen Abplanalp

Catherine Delahunty

4. Green MP Catherine Delahunty “invades” the Pacific Islands Forum suits to attract attention for the plight of West Papuans. Image portfolio: © Karen Abplanalp

Media scrum

5. The media scrum at the Forum. Image portfolio: © Karen Abplanalp

Julia Gillard

6. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard with Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands and President Emanuel Mori of the Federated States of Micronesia. Image portfolio: © Karen Abplanalp

Phillip and Tuilaepa

7. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Danny Phillip (left) and Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sa’ilele Malielegaoi are welcomed to the Pacific Forum. Image portfolio: © Karen Abplanalp

The sea of suits at the official events contrasted with the people at the side events who were mainly women, youth, men, climate activists and activists for Fiji and West Papua.

Ban Ki-moon

8. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon leaving Auckland University after his lecture to hundreds of students, West Papuan protesters are asking for the UN to take action on West Papua. Image portfolio: © Karen Abplanalp

The strong group of protesters for West Papua made themselves visible as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon was leaving his lecture at the University of Auckland, and again outside the official opening ceremony at the Cloud, on Queens Wharf.

The protesters were calling for West Papua to be given observer status at the Pacific Islands Forum and for dialogue with Indonesia about human rights abuses, devastation of the West Papuan environment and protection of West Papuans from the Indonesian military whose actions go by unchecked.

A media blackout is in force in West Papua, and the International Committee of the Red Cross is not allowed into the territory.

West Papuan protest

9. Activists for West Papua protest outside the opening of the Pacific Islands Forum, opposite the Cloud, Queens Wharf, Auckland. Image portfolio: © Karen Abplanalp

It was disappointing that the concerns of West Papua were relegated to street protests, when as a legitimate people of the Pacific they should be able to have the opportunity for dialogue that the other countries enjoy.

Karen Abplanalp is an Auckland social issues photographer and also an AUT University postgraduate student on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course.


  1. Marianne Davis, 13. September 2011, 10:37

    Well done to the few who are brave and caring enough to DO what we lesser folk only think of doing. In rain ,hail or storms they get out and stand up for the oppressed or weak who are unable to be heard. Often dismissed as “the rabble” we should be ,and I for one am, grateful that they are there. Thank you.

  2. Brian T. Manning, 13. September 2011, 11:39

    Congratulations to the protesters for standing up for West Papua at this important forum Papua Merdeka

  3. Ottis Wakum, 13. September 2011, 13:20

    I am an activist for a Free West Papua (WP), living in WP. I just want to convey the gratitute of the oppressed people in WP to all of you in Pacific for raising West Papua during the PIF Leaders’ meeting of this year in Auckland. Without you, Ban Ki-moon would not mention anything about WP. Without you, the PIF Leaders will dump Morning Star flag into the deepest buttom of Pacific Ocean.

  4. Django Raitnaw, 13. September 2011, 23:06

    This is really good to see, thank you to all the activists there and worldwide who continually push this issue, you all know who you are, one day soon West Papua will be free. Papua Merdeka.

  5. Namek, 14. September 2011, 0:38

    Congratulations on the Pacific Forum that was over, carry forward to a successful future, and Melanesian people of Papua, especially in Intrnasional. The Lord Jesus Bless the World leaders who see the issue of Papua.

  6. Late Tary, 22. September 2011, 20:54

    Thank you to all activists who organized the protest in this event, may our heavenly father bless you all.

    Mipla melanesian femili bikpla tenkiyu lo yupela olgeta sapot lo tisla miting, soim ol about West Papua situation, mipla lo PNG bikpla sapot fo ol femili blo mipla lo West Papua.
    Bapa God blo mipla blesim yupela olgeta….
    Free West Papua..

    Late, Tary