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Weekly Summary – Premiere of Vai, Power, Yacht Ki, Fale Fono Spat, Forum

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Busy Season for Visitors

It is the peak of the tourist season and the atoll is abuzz with good numbers of visitors mainly from NZ and Australia and a sprinkling of other nationalities. Cafes and other food outlets are busy as are the tour operators and fishing charters. Accommodations are reporting good occupancy.

If there’s a fly in the ointment it is the concern by fishing boats, both charter and private, of losing fish to sharks. The deep water fishing fraternity have been complaining for some time that they are losing not only their catch but tackle as well. Sharks are a protected species.

In another little hiccup, mid-season our trusted carrier Air New Zealand faced two disruptions to their normally reliable service, when two aircraft in as many months were forced to overnight because of mechanical problems.  Both apparently had breaking problems. Comments in social media put the blame on old aircraft being used on the Niue service.

The type of aircraft in question is the Airbus A320. A newer version, the A320neo was delivered to AirNZ earlier this year. The airline currently operates 26 A320 and 3 A320neo both for the domestic and short haul international flights. The A320 which entered service with AirNZ 14 years ago is estimated to have a life span of 25 years.

One of the A320 at the airport today. Pic – Talaniue.

Power to the People

The on-going saga with the island’s power supply is continuing with a few interruptions in the past week. Fortunately there has not been any necessity to ration the valuable commodity. Engineers from NZ, both of the diesel engine and the electrical kind, have been to the island to try and sort out the problem, i.e. to get the maximum output from the existing equipment.

The problem, as we understand it, is that there is insufficient capacity from the existing generators and solar energy to meet the atoll’s increasing demand. To put it simply, the existing generators are old and tired and are unable to deliver the capacity required. In the event that there is no sunshine, hence no power from the solar panels, the generators are supposed to provide all the power for the island.

Maybe the savings from not having to burn so much fossil fuel through using solar energy can be used towards the cost of new generators.

Having had to bear the brunt of the consumers’ anger over the power interruptions, the Power House manager Hui Paola said that they can only work with equipment that is provided; the responsibility for the design and acquisition of new equipment…”is by folks higher up”.

At the time of writing the Power House has circulated a message alerting consumers that the engineers will be checking the generators on Saturday morning. While no power cuts are expected…”please be prepared for anything”, the statement ended.

Fale Fono Spat in Court

The Niue High Court has given the Speaker another two weeks to file a submission on an action brought by opposition politician and common roll member Terry Coe. 

Talaniue was not able to reach the Speaker for comment by Thursday – the end of the working week for Government – but according to the national broadcaster, the Speaker and his legal advisors had failed to file a submission in the time specified against Hon Coe’s claim that his questions and motions were being deliberately blocked, thus preventing him from fulfilling his obligations to his electorate.

In the event that the Speaker fails to respond, the High Court will still make its ruling regardless. 

This latest action is part of a long running feud between the Speaker of the Assembly and members who are not in the government’s informal caucus. These members had accused the Speaker of stifling debate in the House and in acting at times as an agent of Cabinet.

Legal pundits are waiting to see how the Court will deal with Hon Coe’s application; the action is seen by some to be a direct challenge of the principles of the separation of powers between Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary.

Tuvalu Forum

And while we’re in the general vicinity of matters of the Fale Fono, the Premier Sir Toke Talagi is still in New Zealand for medical reasons. It was therefore Minister Billy Talagi who represented the government at the Forum in Tuvalu.

Whether on the instructions of the Premier or whether ministers acted unilaterally – most likely the former – Niue had decided to rejoin the sub-group the Small Island States at the Tuvalu Forum. Premier Talagi had withdrawn the island’s membership at a previous Forum in PNG. As one of the countries experiencing the effects of climate change it was important for the host PM Enele Sopoaga to persuade the SIS to present a solid front on that issue.

While climate change drew the attention of the media in Funafuti the one issue that was not highlighted was the relationship between China and Pacific Island states. With the Solomon Islands proposing to sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan the stage is set for China’s influence to soar to new levels. For a small stand-alone little atoll in the middle of the ocean, that influence will be felt even more when motorists ride on a smooth tar-sealed road courtesy of Beijing.

Island Premiere of Vai

Niue’s glitterati were out in full force on Wednesday evening for the premiere of the film Vai which featured a segment of Niue.

The film, according to the information provided, “is about one woman’s life in eight separate moments from the perspective of eight different Pacific Island cultures filmed across seven different countries:  Niuean Director Dianna Fuemana shot the Niue segment for Vai in Mutalau last September”.

Stars for the Niue segment were Maliaga Erick, Timothy Magaoa, his daughter Saraia and Janelle Toatapu.  There were of course numerous extras. Without giving too much away, the segment involved a parting, an ear-piercing and lots of food.

In the discussion that followed the screening those who commented were full of praise for the director and the actors. Another screening of the film was held at Mutalau on Thursday evening before Dianna Fuemana, Mali Erick and promoter Stella Muller flew out on Friday.

NZ High Commissioner Kirk Yates, Dianna Fuemana, Iga Tukuitoga and Mali Erick – pic FB Page “Vai Film”.

Sad Fate of Yacht Ki

The sail boat Ki, a 20metre catamaran that hit the reef at Tahiloa at Liku, has more or less being left to the mercy of the elements. As these few photos show, it is not possible to attempt a salvage. All equipment that can be salvaged has been removed. Inspector Brent Ioane who took these photos was one of the last people to leave the scene. Access to the wreck is extremely hazardous and should not be attempted.

Applications for the Secretary of Govt Post

Tight security surrounded the process of selecting the next Secretary of Government, the highest ranking public servant for the Niue Government. It’s understood that from a total list of 6 applicants, only three were shortlisted for an interview. The SoG is one post in government where the Premier is expected to have an input. With the general elections due early next year, there is much speculation over the fate of the successful applicant in the event that there is a change in leadership.

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