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New Zealand and Tonga work together on new programme to prevent suicide

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Princess Angelika singing the MOU in Canberra last month, witnessed by Reverend Filifai’esea Lilo (left) and Dr Monique Faleafa of Le Va . Image: Tonga High Commission

Embarrassment, shame and stigmatisation of mental illness are examples of risk factors in Pacific communities. Asia Pacific Journalism reports on a new Tongan initiative dedicated to preventing suicide.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Georgina Harris

An agreement dedicated to suicide prevention in Tongan communities has been signed between the Tongan Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka Tuku’aho and New Zealand-based Pasifika-led organisation Le Va.

Signed last month at the Tongan High Commission in Canberra, this is the first time such a memorandum of agreement has happened between a Pacific nation and New Zealand.

Le Va chief executive Dr Monique Faleafa says National Suicide Prevention (NSP) Tonga and their patron, Princess Angelika, heard about the work they do with FLO: Pasifika for Life, and approached the organisation. Read more »

Gay rights in the Pacific – what still needs to be done?

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The Fiji President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau … a strong supporter of the Free and Equal Campaign. Image: Pacific Free and Equal

Free and Equal is a global United Nations campaign aimed at promoting equality for gay rights communities throughout the world. Asia-Pacific Journalism reports on a how the Pacific version of the campaign is approaching the region.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Latifa Daud

The struggle for equality within the Pacific region continues as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities face violence and stigmatisation, according to the regional office for the Pacific of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Toiko Kleppe, associate human rights officer at the OHCHR’s regional Pacific office says the Pacific Free and Equal Campaign was launched to create a platform for communities to come together and raise awareness for gay rights in the region.

Free and Equal is a global United Nations campaign aimed at promoting equality for LGBTI communities throughout the world. Read more »

Pacific broadcast media aim to get people ‘to care’ about key goals


Pacific Media Watch’s Alistar Kata reports on community news and the UN sustainable development goals. PMC video

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Alistar Kata

Beyond2015, a global campaign focused on working with civil society groups to develop their regions, is planned to end poverty, inequality and climate change in the Pacific.

But the challenge is how to engage Pacific communities with these messages in a way they can understand.

Last weekend Pacific media were invited to a workshop in Auckland to come up with ways to get the message through. Read more »

Tuna fisheries: Ready to hear the truth about South Pacific albacore?

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Fishermen on board the tuna longliner Ping Tai Rong 55 in the South Pacific haul in and process an albacore tuna. Image: Mark Smith/Greenpeace

Pacific Scoop:
Commentary – By Lagi Toribau of Greenpeace Pacific

These are worrying times for our local Pacific tuna industry. In Fiji boats are being tied up, and staff are being laid off in Samoa, Tonga and in American Samoa where entire fleets are up for sale.

Now there is talk of Starkist’s American Samoa cannery potentially losing 2000 jobs due to limited tuna supplies.

What this tells me is that the current business model and dependency on foreign fishing access and modern technology with destructive fishing techniques is not working for Pacific islanders. Read more »

Advocates call for more more political will when faced with bureaucratic barriers

Tongan publisher Kalafi Moala at the Pacific Media Centre: His jailing in 1996 led to the founding of Pacific Media Watch. Photo: Pippa Brown/PMC

Tongan publisher Kalafi Moala speaks out on obstacles for Pacific reformists who seek change. Photo: Pippa Brown/PMC

Tongan newspaper publisher Kalafi Moala says bureaucracy, culture and religion are a “triune of power” standing in the way of reform in the 21st century Pacific. Asia-Pacific Journalism asks academic experts for their view.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Kai Ping Lew

Reformers in the kingdom of Tonga have often found themselves stymied by an unyielding bureaucracy, resulting in unnecessary delays in passing legislation citizens need, says Tongan newspaper publisher Kalafi Moala.

“No one benefits from such a situation. Those that lose the most are the people the government is serving,” he said.

Dr Steven Ratuva, University of Canterbury’s professor and director of the Macmillan Brown Research Centre for Pacific studies, agrees with Moala about the seriousness of the situation. Read more »

UN launches campaign supporting gay rights in the Pacific


One of two UN videos produced for the Pacific campaign.

The United Nations has called for action in a new campaign against homophobia and transphobia in the Pacific Islands. The campaign has been well received, reports Asia-Pacific Journalism.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Ida Brock

Her eyes are fixed on the video camera. Her expression is serious. In a short moment the woman’s eyes switch to the ground until they meet the lens once again.

“I was assaulted by six prefects from the school. I missed an entire school term,” she says.

The woman is a transsexual living in the Pacific and has been the victim of discrimination because of her sexuality and gender identity. Read more »

Tonga, Fiji improve sharply in latest RSF World Press Freedom Index ‘decline’

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World press freedom … drastic decline in 2014, says RSF in its latest Index report. Image: AFP/RSF

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Pacific Media Watch in Paris

Tonga, which has held its first democratic elections in 2010 and again last November, has made the strongest gains of any Pacific Islands nation in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders (RSF/RWB) World Press Freedom Index. But globally, world press freedom has been in decline.

Thanks to an independent press, which has established its role as a counterweight to the government, the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga has risen an “enviable” 19 places to 44th overall.

Fiji, which held its first general election since the 2006 military coup in September, has also made strong gains. It rose 14 places to 93rd. Read more »

Triumph of living political martyr likely to ignite fresh Tongan reform hopes

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Brimming with confidence … new Tongan PM ‘Akilisi Pohiva offers new hope for changes. Image: Iliesa Tora/Tonga Daily News

The inherent Pacific diversity makes a mockery of the naive mainstream view that there are certain ideal types of “one size fits all” Western models of democracy which non-Western states must fit into, writes Professor Steven Ratuva.

Pacific Scoop:
Analysis – By Professor Steven Ratuva

As the first elected prime minister of the kingdom of Tonga, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, the long-time Tongan pro-democracy campaign leader, has redefined the meaning and form of Tongan democracy in a significant way.

It is a new phase in the challenging historical evolution of Tongan political rule since 1875 when the kingdom’s constitution was born. The riots and burning in the capital Nuku’alofa in 2006 brought to the fore the urgency for reform.

The election in Tonga was just one of the few in the Pacific in 2014 (New Caledonia on 11 May, Cook Islands on 9 July, Fiji on 17 September, Solomon Islands on 19 November and Tonga on 27 November). Read more »

Tonga’s PM ‘Akilisi Pohiva – long, hazardous road from chief critic to power

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Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva … pledged to eliminate excessive government spending alleged to have been based on corrupt practices. Image: Global Panorama

Pacific Scoop:
Analysis – By Kalafi Moala in Nuku’alofa

After almost five weeks of political wrangling since the November 27 election, Tonga’s elected representatives finally chose a Prime Minister late last month. As expected, he is Tonga’s long time pro-democracy leader, ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

At 72, Pohiva is the oldest in Tonga’s Parliament, and is also the longest serving Member of Parliament.

By the time he finishes his current term in 2018, he would have been in Parliament continuously for 32 years. Read more »

‘Practice parliament’ empowers bid by women in Tongan national elections

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Women did well in the Tongan elections even if none were elected as MPs. Image: UNDP

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Sheryl Ho

When Tonga went to the polls last month to elect new Members of Parliament, 16 women candidates representing different constituencies, took up the challenge alongside 90 men to contest the 17 seats set aside for the People’s Representatives in Parliament.

More than half of the people’s representatives were dumped in last month’s election and the major parties failed to win a majority. No women MPS were elected.

However, some of the women who ran in the elections said that they felt encouraged to run after participating in the Practice Parliament for Women held in April and a follow-up Campaign and Leadership Training. Read more »

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