Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 843


1a) Melanesian Spearhead Group Plans Roadmap For Next 25 Years
Eminent Persons Group meeting to review past, look ahead

By Mereani Gonedua

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 29, 2013) – The Melanesian Spearhead Group’s (MSG) Eminent Persons Group will be meeting today to review the MSG performance for the past 25 years and formulate a vision and roadmap for the next 25 years.

Their report is expected to be presented at the 19th MSG Leaders Summit in June in Noumea.

The group is expected to meet Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama this morning and with State officials, civil society, non-governmental organisations, academia, development partners and different interest groups during their consultations.

The group includes former Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogovare, Joe Natuman of Vanuatu, Leonard Louma of PNG and President of the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et socialite (FLNKS) Roch Wamytan.

The meeting will conclude on Friday.


1b)Bougainville MP aims for unity

Posted at 06:54 on 29 April, 2013 UTC

The regional member of parliament for Papua New Guinea’s autonomous province of Bougainville says his primary goal is to unite the people in the conflict-torn region.

Joseph Lera, who is a first-time MP in the PNG parliament, says Bougainvilleans must take ownership of decision-making in their province in order for there to be unity and prosperity.

He told Johnny Blades that Bougainville society remains fragmented, years after the civil war wound up”

“One of my first tasks is to unite the leaders. Not only unite, but also come up with a concept to involve them to participate in decision-making, and with the mining development and also finding answers to other issues affecting Bougainville after the crisis.”

And do these issues need to be fully resolved and unity forged first before the mine reopens?

“That’s what I think. First we have to unite. I think the answer to the mine is with the people. And through that unity I’m trying to build, I think the people themselves must decide. At the moment that has not been the case. It’s people outside trying to come in with answers. My belief is the answer is with my people and the leader has to do six things. One – set a reason, two – guide the people, three – support them, four – our system, five – direct them and six – unite. Through that process, from the leader’s perspective, I think that people will come up with appropriate and relevant answers to the issues affecting Bougainville and hopefully that is in relation to the opening of the mine.”

Are you on the same page as the president of the ABG on this?

“Teamwork becomes very important with the president. If I’m going to be the voice of the president, the ABG and the people, I have to work very closely. So I’ve been trying to build that relationship in the last five, six months. And it’s working for the good of Bougainville.”

It must be difficult with these outside influences coming in trying to get the mine reopened quickly or as quickly as possible. There’s pressure, isn’t there?

“It’s really difficult. That’s why the people are not responding. I’m saying through the process of uniting and involving people to participate in decision-making the answer is with the people of Bougainville. And hopefully soon, through that process I’m establishing, we can find the answer. It’s not with the outsiders.”

What about money? Money is a problem, isn’t it? You need it for some of these things, to help people forge a better way of life.

“I think that’s when the outsiders can help us to facilitate this process of uniting and allowing people to come together, take part and participate in decision-making.”

Bougainville Regional Member, Joseph Lera.

Radio New Zealand International
2) The die is cast!

Posted on April 29, 2013 – 3:55pm |

Winston Tarere

Department staffs at the Ministry of Lands are crossing the fabled ‘Rubicon River’ if they continue to defy orders from their new Minister Ralph Regenvanu, to surrender leases obtained over state land.

For the majority, “the die is cast.”

“Iacta alea est!”
This is the literal Latin translation as uttered by Julius Caesar on 19th Jan 49 B.C.E before he marched his army across the Rubicon, a stream separating his administrative province of Gaul from the seat of power in Rome, Italy. This was a direct violation of Senate orders preventing any general from marching any standing army into Italy. The crossing was an announcement of civil war and Caesar’s march against the Consul Pompey began.

For Caesar, crossing the Rubicon was his last resort. Only through a Coup can he reverse the fate his opponents in Rome had dealt him. After a long and successful conquest of Gaul – modern day France, Belgium, northern parts of Italy and countries sharing borders with them – he setup an efficient administration with him as governor. However, the aristocrats in Rome and Pompey conspired to strip him of his position as governor and ordered him arrested and prosecuted if he returned to Rome.

At the banks of the Rubicon, he paused, hesitated, then, marched. He knew he was taking an irrevocable step that only a military coup with him as dictator would absolve.

The Rubicon was his point of no return. Hence ‘the die is cast,’ meaning the die has been rolled. The outcome now is left to chance and how he maneuvers his army and power to achieve what he believes, is justice in his heart.
The end game for employees who refuse to surrender their leases is not guaranteed to be like Caesars. As public servants, they clearly used their position for self-gain.

Conflict of interest in this case can be defined as individuals or group of people who were in a position to exploit a professional or official capacity in some way for their personal or collective benefit. The conflict of interest may not, in and of itself, be any evidence of wrongdoing like the excuse by staff that they were taking their cue from the minister.

However, a conflict of interest can become a legal matter when an individual or in this case the whole department tried and successfully influenced the outcome of a decision. Now we can argue that the decision was already made by the minister. True. But, by participating in the process of awarding themselves leases can be clearly defined as, influencing and helping the process to succeed for personal benefit.

This case will not look only on the criminality of the case, but will also question the conflict of interest in the breaches of each worker’s Duty of Loyalty to the state. For instance when judges are personally involved or a related to persons or cases tried in the court of law, they recuse themselves from sitting on the case because their integrity and ability to be fair and independent could be questioned, which could help to pervert the cause of justice.
Being a public servant is a position of trust where one is required by duty to be loyal in serving the nation and the interests of the state in a fair and just manner.

Duty and loyalty overrides any self-pity of awarding oneself leases because it is the only way to acquire land on a small salary they have. It overrides the fact that at least land is given back to the Ni-Vanuatu and not foreigners, because they did not make it fair to all public servants and the poor Ni-Vanuatu who need it more than them. They did not advertise it or allowed people to submit their interests or put in bids for the leases.

The sale of any state assets must be advertised with the condition of sale clearly stated. And the winning bidder must conform to the criteria or conditions for the sale. For instance if it’s a land scheme for those with low salary then the only people who should be considered for the lease are those who fit a certain salary bracket within the public service.

The Minister of Lands is not trying to strip away anything from his staff. He is trying to restore the integrity of his staff and trust of the people in the public service. It is the minister’s staff who are duty bound to be loyal to the state, and turn a new leaf without being dragged in the soil and have their names tarnished by their pride.

The end game is a court battle and disciplinary action that will only be detrimental to the wellbeing and livelihood of the public servants and their families. The attitude that if the ministers wants to impose disciplinary action he will have to terminate all his staff and find new people is selfish and unprofessional.

The last time such an action was taken during the reign of Maxime Carlot Korman and Sethy Regenvanu, Vanuatu lost most of its qualified public servants and people were dragged in from anywhere to fill those positions.

If the government is pushed when its cause is justified, it will find people to fill the holes in the ministry of lands. The Trade and Service agreement and labor mobility under the Melanesian Spearhead Group could be taken up. Professional retired public servants in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea could be contracted to come and fill in the jobs and services that our own professionals have chosen to abandon.

The minister must also be applauded for providing space to allow dialogue. But his staff must be given a guarantee that land taken out of the hands of indigenous hand by the state will not end up in the hands of business interests and political elites and the aristocrats who put politics and profit before people’s welfare.

The die is cast. Let us hope the staff are not adamant in crossing the Rubicon river.

3) Vanuatu Reserve Bank Governor removed
By Online Editor
5:55 pm GMT+12, 29/04/2013, Vanuatu

The current issue of the Vanuatu Government gazette, has confirmed the sudden removal of Odo Tevi as Governor of the country’s Reserve Bank, reports the Vanuatu Daily Post.

Prior to the Kilman government collapsing, Tevi had been Governor for 10 years (two terms) with his second term ending on April 26. However on March 19, the then Prime Minister Sato Kilman renewed Tevi’s contract for a second term for another five years.

The government gazette titled Revocation of Appointment of Odo Tevi as Governor of the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu, Noitce No 79 of 2013 signed by the Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses, states in part that “acting on the recommendation of the Minister of Finance and Economic Management, makes the following notice – that the appointment of Odo Tevi as Governor of the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu for a term of five years with effect on from Saturday, April 27, 2013 and executed at Port Vila on the 19th day of March 2013, is revoked.”

Robert Bohn MP when contacted by Daily Post for comment advised, “Odo Tevi had done a good job and was not sacked.

“He had completed ten years as Governor and it is not normal anywhere in the world to have someone in the position of Governor for 15 years so the current government made the decision to simply cancel the second renewal of his contract. No other reason.”

He advised that the Reserve Bank board have voiced concerns over loans being given to staff with preferential low interest rates but said the previous board had approved it, so Tevi was not held responsible. He said that staff should not be getting loans from the Reserve Bank and should be able to easily get loans from commercial banks as they are pushing to give loans.

Meanwhile, the Leader of the Opposition, Ham Lini, has condemned the termination of Tevi as a critical mistake by the government. He labelled the move as a conflict of interest on the part of the government and retaliation for the sacking of former RBV director Tom Bayer.

“Tevi’s removal is very unhealthy for Vanuatu’s financial standing and the management of the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu is in danger and can lead to a possible run down of the bank,” Lini said. He added that former Governor Tevi should seek legal advice over his sacking.

“The management of Vanuatu’s stable fiscal policy was due very much to Tevi’s strict control,” Lini said adding that “Vanuatu’s import cover of 6.4 months as compared to 1994 when it stood at 1-and-a-half months import cover is testament to Odo Tevi’s prudent management skills.”

“The current Opposition block is demanding that the nation rise up to certain individuals who want to mishandle Vanuatu’s sovereignty through our already weak financial position,” Lini added.

The Office of the Prime Minister confirmed the removal of Governor Tevi saying that he should have received his letter of termination of employment Friday.



4) 44pc of Kiwis living pay day to pay day
By Online Editor
5:51 pm GMT+12, 29/04/2013, New Zealand

Nearly half of New Zealanders are living pay day to pay day without a nest egg to fall back on in case of emergencies.

A survey into our banking habits showed younger people at the beginning of their careers, women and those from Waikato and Otago were more likely to be unable to put money away for a rainy day. Forty-four per cent of Kiwis hang out for pay day every week, with women the highest at 48 per cent.

Fifty-six per cent of those aged between 18 and 29 fell into this category, those aged between 30 and 44 were at 50 per cent. People of 45 and over too had concerns (36 per cent).

Waikato residents had the hardest time, at 50 per cent, compared with 42 per cent of Aucklanders. Canstar Blue, which compares data from New Zealand banks, interviewed 2240 people around the country who had one or more bank accounts.

Dealing with money was stressful and overwhelming for 34 per cent of people, while thinking about the long-term financial future also made 43 per cent feel uncomfortable.

Again, younger people, women and Waikato and Otago residents were the highest-represented in each category.

But the budgeting ethic was strong across all age groups with 65 per cent saying they stuck to a budget.

North Shore Budgeting Service’s Brian Pethybridge said the GST rate rise from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent in 2010 and Kiwisaver contributions rising from 2 per cent to 3 per cent had taken a toll on family budgets, as did petrol and housing costs.

Most people only require about three changes to balance a budget, Mr Pethybridge said. “It can be something like smokes, alcohol, Sky TV, or little things that add up. People realise that things are not going round, but they haven’t taken steps to see what changes need to be made. Invariably people just leave it.”

A lot of struggling New Zealanders did not realise that they were eligible for financial help, including a Work and Income accommodation supplement which started at $80 a week.

“It’s not only for beneficiaries, it’s for people that board, it’s for people with mortgages,” Mr Pethybridge said.

The survey also asked respondents to rate their bank across eight categories. TSB came out on top for overall satisfaction with five out of five points, followed by The Co-operative Bank, KiwiBank, ASB and BNZ, which scored four points.

Wayne Merriman has learned to budget for pay day every week.

The 25-year-old is studying towards his commercial pilot’s licence and is unable to pick up too many part-time jobs as he needs to keep time free for flying sessions – which are often having to be cancelled or rescheduled depending on the weather.

He works about twice a month at the Hampton Downs racetrack helping out with supercar events, earning $15 an hour, and about once a fortnight mowing laws and doing other odd jobs for an elderly couple in Whitford, earning $14 an hour.

His student allowance of $244 comes every Wednesday.

But after paying $165 in rent for a room in his One Tree Hill flat, Mr Merriman is left with between $80-$100 a week for food and petrol.

“It’s not enough,” he said.

“I put $40 gas in my car, which is less then half a tank, and the remaining $40 on food doesn’t go that far – it just gets me some mince and some bread.”

He hopes to graduate in six months and will look at jobs flying twin-engine planes overseas.

How we’re banking

• 44% live pay day to pay day

• 43% say thinking too much about their long-term financial future makes them uncomfortable

• 34% think dealing with money is stressful and overwhelming

• 65% stick to a budget

• 34% seek financial advice from their bank

• 53% no longer have a cheque book

• 46% a lot of banking on the go

• 65% rarely go to a bank branch

• 13% have threatened to switch providers and successfully negotiated lower fees or interest.



5) Riport blong Solomon ethnic Crisis igo pablik

Updated 29 April 2013, 17:24 AEST
Sam Seke

Fainal ripot blong dispela Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliatioin Commissioin oli autim nau long internet – maski Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo ino laik rilisim yet long pablik.

Solomon Islands National Flag
Odio: Dr Terry Brown Editor blong Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report i toktok

Dispela Truth na Reconciliation Commission em ibin lukluk long Ethnic Crisis heve long Solomon Islands namel long 1998 na 2003.

Planti tausan pipol blong Malaita nau ibin lusim hom blong ol long Guadalcanal long dispela pait namel long ol pipol blong tupela province ia.

Heve ia ibin karamapim Solomon Islands na ibin bagarapim olgeta tu sait long ikonomi blong kantri.

Man husat i raitim dispela ripot blong TRC, Retired Anglican Bishop blong Malaita, Dr Terry Brown itok oli givim ripot ia long Praim Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo long end blong February 2012.

Dr Terry Brown itok, aninit long loa, Praim Minister i mas putim ripot ia long ol palamen memba i toktok longen na rilisim long pablik.

Prime Minister Lilo ibin tok em i no laik rilisim ripot ia pastaim, long wanem em bai kirapim gen heve long kantri.

Tasol Dr Terry Brown i tok ol pipol blong Solomon Islands i nid long save long trupela samting long dispela heve long kantri.


6) Malaysian palm oil giant eyes PNG plantation land

Posted at 06:54 on 29 April, 2013 UTC

The world’s largest crude palm oil producer, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd, or FGV, has signalled it may venture into Papua New Guinea to increase its plantation land.

The President and chief executive officer of the Malaysian company, Datuk Sabri Ahmad said Papua New Guinea’s government officials have asked for FGV’s help in starting oil palm plantations in PNG.

Sabri told Business Times that PNG land is suitable for oil palm.

He says that FGV is conducting feasibility studies and technical due dilligence and that if the company decides to go to PNG, it can easily start with an initial 10,000 hectares operation.

Radio New Zealand International


7) Regional media mourns death of broadcaster

By Online Editor
5:35 pm GMT+12, 29/04/2013, Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands and regional media family today mourns the sudden death of the national broadcaster’s news editor, Walter nalangu.

Until his death, Nalangu was also the vice President of the country’s national media asscoaition, the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI).

The late Nalangu passed away on Saturday evening at the National Referral Hospital after a short illness.

In a statement today, MASI President, George Herming said Nalangu’s service to the nation will be greatly missed but his legacy will remain in the hearts of MASI members for forever.

“He was highly regarded by media colleagues and was a true friend and mentor to many young journalists throughout Solomon Islands.

“We will greatly miss you Walter and may your soul rest in peace with the almighty in heaven,” the MASI statement said.

The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)join their media colleagues in Solomon Islands and throughout the Pacific in mourning the untimely death of a dear friend and a natural broadcaster whose voice and personality was accommodating in nature.

“He is probably one of the few media personalities in the region that has attended almost all PINA General Meetings in the last two decades.

“Nalangu has, on many occasions, assisted PINA with the training of broadcasters in the region. He was always willing, in his own quiet way to share his vast knowledge and skills with the younger journalists, said a statement from PINA.

The PINA regional family fondly remembers his last contribution at the biennial PINA Media Summit in Fiji in March last year, where he was asked at short notice to chair the Radio Industry group, a task he undertook successfully without any complaint . Walter steered the discussions with ease, resulting in a five point resolution from the broadcaster’s group.

Nalangu represented his employer, SIBC at the discussion in Tonga in 2005 that spearheaded the merger of the Pacific Islands Broadcasting Association (PIBA) and the Pacific Islands News Association PINA).


8) Solomons Truth And Reconciliation Report Leaked By Editor
Ft. Terry Brown releases document since Prime Minister has not

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Times, April 29, 2013) – The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has been released unofficially by the editor of the report, The Rt. Rev Dr. Terry M. Brown.

The report was released to media groups and social media.

“After much prayer and reflection, as editor of the final Report of the Solomon Islands, I have decided to release the Report in its digital form to the general public,” said Fr. Brown, in a prepared media statement.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act (2008) requires that the report be given to the Prime Minister who is then to table it in Parliament, at which point it becomes public. The Chair of the TRC gave the Final Report to the Prime Minister at the end of February 2012 in a moving and widely reported public ceremony.

“Since then, the Prime Minister has refused to pass on the Report to Parliament, citing at different times its large size and sensitivity.”

Fr Brown said that the Report has not even been shared with the Ministry of National Reconciliation, Unity and Peace, who would have the primary responsibility for implementing it.

Fr Brown claims that threats have been made in connection with the Report, which he says has led to the Government becoming reluctant in releasing the report.

“I do not believe this. The Report is very accurate and comprehensive and gives proper recognition to the victims of the conflict whose stories should be heard. It is not good enough to forgive the perpetrators and forget the victims, which seems to the approach of the Government.”

Fr Brown says that he is convinced that the TRC Report, as an exercise in truth telling, painful as the recollection may sometimes be, will help bring about the lasting justice, peace, reconciliation and unity that Solomon Islands so badly needs.

Solomon Times Online chooses not to publish the report publically. The decision to release the report lies with the government, a decision we must respect.

[PIR editor’s note: PIR has not received a copy of the TRC report.]

Solomon Times


9a) First university in Solomons cheaper option than study abroad – academics

Posted at 06:54 on 29 April, 2013 UTC

Tertiary education in Solomon Islands looks likely to become a lot cheaper.

The Solomon Islands National University has now officially replaced the College of Higher Education in the capital, Honiara, while close to the city the University of the South Pacific is to establish a local campus.

Beverley Tse has more.

The USP’s Solomons Campus Director, John Usuramo, says the new tertiary institutions give students alternatives to studying offshore and he says it will be more cost effective for them.

“They will save on airfares, they will save on accommodation overseas which is quite expensive compared to Solomon Islands. And in Solomon Islands a lot of students might be residing with their families rather than living in accommodation provided by the universities.”

John Usuramo says the new academies further benefit students who struggle to complete their degrees overseas, as they won’t have to worry about settling into a new country.

The Deputy Principal of King George the sixth High School, Jonathan Dive says the government can save money on overseas scholarships.

But he says some students will still have to study offshore due to the limited programmes, such as the nursing degree, which is on offer at the National University.

“It’s a new university and it will take us (time) to develop. So it is at infant stage for this university. But I think that it’s good to have our own university so more of our students in the senior posts, that they’re going to go.”

Meanwhile, the Pro-chancellor of the National University, Sir Nathaniel Waena is appealing to Solomon Islands’ academics working in universities overseas to consider returning to work for the new institution.

“Well, if they feel that they should come back and contribute to the nation that made them what they are now, because obviously they were given scholarships by courtesy of the Solomon Islands government, beginning with their first degrees then onto their postgraduate qualifications. So if there is any obligation in their mind to return home, that is what the story entails.”

An associate professor at the Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii, Dr Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka, who is from Solomon Islands, says the government and the universities will have to offer attractive deals to entice expatriates back.

He says there are alternative ways for them to contribute.

“So rather than saying to people we want you to come back and work permanently in the Solomons, you come up with a programme that says, okay, those Solomon Islanders who are teaching in different places, let’s work out when you have sabbaticals and we will offer you a package so that you spend your sabbatical with the Solomon Islands National University.”

Dr Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka says many expat academics have long-term commitments to certain institutions, but he says it is possible for them to work for the new universities without physically being there.

Radio New Zealand International
9b) New campus for uni

Dawn Gibson
Monday, April 29, 2013

THE University of the South Pacific last week signed a lease with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo for a new campus at Ndoma.

Led by pro-chancellor and chair of USP Council Ikbal Jannif, a Fiji delegation visited the Solomon Islands earlier this month to discuss the establishment of the new campus.

In a statement issued by the university last Friday, Mr Lilo said the Solomon Islands was open to regional partnerships that encouraged development.

“Our doors are open to regional and international institutions that are willing to work in partnership with us for sustainable outcomes,” he said.

“We are open to dialogue and will take the steps necessary to allow these partnerships to grow and flourish.”

Mr Lilo said he supported the university’s attempts to expand its operations to the Solomon Islands.

This, he added, would benefit Solomon Islanders who were keen on furthering their studies.

“I understand that USP will be expanding its courses on technical, vocational, and community education, thereby offering another less traditional route to higher education.

“We look forward to USP accelerating the development of the new campus and my government will ensure that we provide all the necessary support and assistance during the implementation of the project.”

Work is expected to begin soon.


10) Spain and Samoa Qualify for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014

By Matai Akauola
2:44 pm GMT+12, 29/04/2013, Samoa

Spain and Samoa have booked their places at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Paris next year.

The two teams guaranteed their spots after finishing in the top two at WRWC qualifiers in Madrid, which finished today.

Spain finished the three-game tournament with three impressive victories, while Samoa won two of theirs, and finished just ahead of Scotland and Italy.

The Spanish and Samoan women now join the eight other teams that had already qualified for the Women’s Rugby World Cup in the French capital next year.

Click Here For More Information on the Women’s Rugby World Cup >>>

Speaking after their 38-7 demolition of Italy at the Estadio de la Universidad in Madrid, Spanish head coach Ines Etxegibel expressed her delight with the win and the qualification.

“This is our reward for our hard work over the past year. This is our reward for the work by the Spanish Union.”

“We have a lot more hard work in front of us but that’s not for today. Today is for celebrating,” she added.

Samoa insisted before the tournament that they weren’t making the long trip just to make up the numbers. Manusina coach Peter Fatialofa said it was a major success for the women’s Game in the Pacific region.

“We came here to do our best and to qualfiy, we’ve achieved that and I’m delighted for the girls.”

“The fact is that we’re now representing the Pacific Islands in the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014. That’s a great honour and I wish to thank the IRB for its help and investment in the Game.”

“We have to go back now and focus on the tough work ahead because we’re going to be playing some incredible teams in France. But tonight, we’re just going to enjoy our qualification,” said Fatialofa.

Ten teams have now qualified for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014, namely defending champions New Zealand, 2010 runners-up England, Australia, hosts France, USA, Canada, Ireland, Wales and today’s additions, Spain and Samoa.

It leaves only two places remaining, to be filled by an African and Asian qualifier at a later stage.

“I want to wholeheartedly congratulate Spain and Samoa on this terrific achievement,” said RWCL Chairman Bernard Lapasset.

“We’ve seen some tremendous Rugby on display this week in Madrid and it’s a testament to how much the game has developed in recent years around the world.”

“The Women’s Rugby World Cup is over a year away, but already excitement is building and it looks set to be a great tournament,” said Lapasset.

WRWC qualifiers day three results:

Spain 38-7 Italy

Samoa 33-14 Netherlands

Scotland 63-8 Sweden.


11) Tonga coach calls for Pacific league tri-series
By Matai Akauola
2:51 pm GMT+12, 29/04/2013, New Zealand

Tongan rugby league coach Charles Tonga wants an annual competition, held in New Zealand and played between the Kiwis and Pacific Island nations, during the State of Origin weeks.

Tonga’s 36-4 win over Samoa last weekend was a memorable night for international league and showed there is a need and demand for the Pacific nations to play more fixtures. The game’s attendance easily outshone the NRL’s long-running City v Country match.

It was Tonga’s first test in three years and, after the World Cup at the end of the year, all that’s on the cards are one-off tests against Samoa for the next four years.

For league to grow worldwide, there needs to be more international fixtures, and judging by how the Samoan and Tongan communities in Auckland got behind their teams at the 2011 World Cup, there would certainly be a desire to see their national league teams play in Auckland.

The Kiwis would also benefit from more time together – a problem raised every year around Anzac-test time.

“We have signed a four-year agreement for Tonga v Samoa to be an annual fixture in Australia and that’s great for the game,” Tonga told Sunday News.

“But it would be wonderful if we could take it to New Zealand too, to have Tonga and Samoa playing New Zealand and have bigger crowds.

“You can imagine what it would be like to play these games at Eden Park. It would be fantastic.

“This is a great concept,” he added. “You could also look to include Fiji too, because they’ve got a great team and will have Petero Civoniceva and possibly Jarryd Hayne. It would be great to do something at State of Origin time, it would build the game in Auckland and the Pacific Islands.”

Tonga said he received congratulatory messages from around the world after last weekend’s victory and he had also had more NRL players say they now wanted to be involved in the team.

“The win has attracted a number of other players who want to come back to play for Tonga,” he said.

“But I won’t be forgetting that the team we had last week did everything we asked of them.

“At the end of the year, other guys might come back. You’re looking at guys like Michael Jennings, Tony Williams, and at the Warriors there are a couple of other names.

“But I have advised all of the players that I’m looking for consistency – week in, week out.

“Also, we want to build a culture of being loyal to the boys who have already put their hands up.”

Tonga revealed that Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell and utility back Ngani Laumape both told him they wanted to play for him last weekend, but, surprisingly, the club blocked that happening.

“Konrad and his manager have assured me that he wants to play for Tonga,” he said.

“Also, Ngani Laumape wanted to play, but the club ruled them out, which was sad, and in the end we had other young talent that stood up and took that opportunity.”

Tonga will have a camp in the Pacific Island for a week after the NRL season, then spend a few days in Dubai en route to the World Cup, where they have pool games against Scotland, Italy and Cook Islands before a potential quarterfinal clash against the Kiwis….PACNEWS


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