Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1087 (Monday 20 April 2015 )

MELANESIA

1) MSG meetings a great success to trade negotiations in the region
By Online Editor
8:28 pm GMT+12, 19/04/2015, Vanuatu

The Melanesian Spearhead Group Technical Working Group (TWG) Negotiations on MSGTA3 was held last week at the MSG Secretariat in Port Vila.

The 17th the Trade & Economic Officials (TEOM) met to consider and endorse the outcomes of the TWG Negotiation meetings.

The talks have been hugely beneficial for the participants from all member states.

Frazer Murray, Director of Trade Negotiations for the Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry, Papua New Guinea said: “…this Technical Working Group Negotiations has really enhanced my understanding … in terms of highlighting to us what we currently have and providing the advantages and disadvantages of the current agreement and the new one that is proposed.

“It’s very useful and we really do appreciate the convening of these TWGs as we deliberated on the new chapters contained in the Services draft Agreement.”

MSGTA3 features new negotiations with the addition of Services to the Trade Agreement set to be signed in November 2015 by the Trade Ministers. These new Services Chapters include: Telecommunications, Investment, E-Commerce, and Labour Mobility.

“For us the services Sector is very exciting. We are very hopeful that trade and services will increase significantly in the MSG region… When you look at the service sector, telecommunications, tourism, and travel … you find that the gains far outweigh the costs we bare from trading goods,” says Sumbue Antas, Director for Department of External Trade, Vanuatu.

It is now up to the participants to go back to their member states and engage with the private sector and industry groups to ensure invested interest from the local business owners on how they could benefit from the newer Trade Agreement.

Peter Forau, the Director General for the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat is excited to involve the private sector in the discussions moving forward. “… we will hope to reach them (the private sector) with this information and improve their own learning with what exactly is being undertaken in these processes for negotiating a new trade agreement. It’s an opportunity for them (private sector) to improve their production for export as well as to look at exploiting market opportunities.”

The next event is planned for Honiara, Solomon Islands ahead of the Leaders’ Summit in mid-June 2015.

These events are jointly funded between MSG members and the European Union under the Pacific Integration Technical Assistance Project (PITAP).

SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS

2) Ambassador delighted about kava re-entry in European market

Posted: Friday, April 17, 2015 1:00 pm

By Jonas Cullwick | 0 comments

Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the European Union, Roy Mickey Joy, has expressed delight at the news that kava will again be accepted into the European market.

Joy, who is also Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, the French Republic and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and the Court of St James called the news “very important”.

He said the news has come “at a time when Vanuatu is desperately in need of much needed foreign exchange earnings to be pumped into our economy particularly after the massive destruction and losses sustained by Tropical Cyclone Pam in the Islands exactly 14 days” after the disaster struck.

In an email message to Dr. Mathias Schmidt and Paolo Vergano, two men who have spearheaded the Pacific region’s court case to have the ban on kava exportation to Europe removed, Ambassador Joy he looked forward to working more closely with both men in the implementation of the Kava Study being commissioned and he wished them very best in putting together this Report.

“I am in close liaison with the ACP Secretariat as we are planning to convene around the month of June in Brussels a Symposium targeting ACP Commodities and I can already confirm at this stage that Kava will definitely be an item in the Agenda and selected Kava farmers and those in the Industry in the Pacific will definitely be invited to attend,” he added.

In announcing the news, Paolo R. Vergano said “this is great news and hopefully the last nail in BfArM’s coffin…!!”

“Clearly, it is now important and imperative that the Pacific does what is needed to ensure that only safe and quality kava is exported, when trade resumes,” Vergano added.

He said “BfArM should not be given any opportunity to impose again a ‘ban’. The kava community cannot afford another decade of stigma and of trade barriers.”

Vergano advised that the new EU project to assist in the proper FAO Codex standardization of kava production, processing and trade must now be seized to achieve the degree of regional harmonization and discipline that must guarantee that level of quality and safety.

“We should all be thankful for your relentless pursuit of justice in Germany, for the leadership of Ambassador Joy in Brussels and Europe to secure once again EU funding for the necessary technical assistance, and the EU for having made once again funding available. The Pacific must now step up to the plate and do what is necessary to ensure that only safe and quality kava is traded and that rouge traders do not undermine the long-term sustainability of the kava industry.”

“My firm and I are looking forward to playing a small part in this process and to working with all of you to advance the interests of the Pacific and of kava,” Vergano said.

Announcing the news late March, Schmidt said “Now it is almost definitive: We have received a letter from BfArM expressing that they will not go into revision of the court ruling, provided the manufacturers apply some changes to the product information.”

He said BfArM’s major worry was that the manufacturers could bring the products back to the market this month, April, with the old information.

“We told them that we are unable to come back before June 2015, and that we’d discuss the necessary changes with them before the re-launch.

“This means that in two weeks’ time the court ruling will be definitively applicable, and kava is largely rehabilitated. We will see kava products back on the market within 2015!”

Schmidt said if BfArM does not change its mind with respect to revision (which we can now be sure they will not) within the next two weeks, “we will have successfully concluded 14 years of fighting for kava.”

“The day the court ruling reaches validity, I’ll be on my way to Melanesia, visiting Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and the Solomon Islands for a project aimed at the definition of kava standards (directly applicable to the German products, and planned to speed up the re-launch process) and happy to personally bring the good news to the region.”

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

3) Russia identifies Ni-Vanuatu men killed in boating incident in Russia 

By Online Editor
8:27 pm GMT+12, 19/04/2015, Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade has revealed the identity of the ni-Vanuatu man who died in the tragic sinking incident of a boat in Russian waters.

The ni-Vanuatu men who lost their lives are; Nikiau Richard (Passport No. RV024543), Letlet John (Passport No. RV024543) and Norman Charley (Passport No. RV023152). It’s believed the three men died when the Russian refrigerating trawler, “Dalniy Vostok” sank in the Sea of Okhotsk on 02 April.

The deceased foreign nationals were identified by the Representative of the Ministry of the Russian Federation in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

The Ministry said during the same tragedy, two Vanuatu nationals, Ben Nawia (Passport No. RV008120) and Karl Esea (Passport No. RV023907) were rescued and despite minor medical issues they have been cleared and are on their way back home.

The Government of Vanuatu through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade and the Government of the Russian Federation are working on the arrangements to repatriate the bodies back home for burial.

SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS

4) Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 20 April 2015

by bobmakin

  • All daily news media have covered the main good, post-Pam news stories of the last 24 hours. RVS Tukoro was returned to base at Paray Bay after being re-launched from its beaching at Moso island. There was considerable praise for Performance Marine Limited’s re-float with the king tide to reduce possible damage. Roimata 2 slid out Tukoro and divers established there was no serious damage and Tukoro could return to base. The Solomons’ patrol vessel Auki escorted Tukoro to Paray Bay. The Defence Agreement with Australia will determine how, when and where Tukoro will be slipped.
  • The Queensland Ambulance Service has provided Promedical with a new ambulance to the delight of Promedical Manager, Michael Benjamin. It was delivered by an Australian Defence Force plane. Deputy High Commissioner Flores commended Promed for its response around Efate in the Pam cyclone emergencies.
  • The Turkish Government has contributed a first cash donation of USD 150,000 to relief efforts after cyclone Pam.
  • Five people have received gaol terms of 15 years following the witchcraft case of Akhamb. Premeditated intentional homicide was the charge against the 5 of a total of 12 defendants. The homicide resulted in the death of 2 persons locally blamed for allegedly practising witchcraft on that island, Post reports today. Chief Justice Lunabek heard the case last week in Luganville.

5) Pro-French rally planned in New Caledonia

Updated at 8:02 am today

New Caledonia’s anti-independence parties have called for a rally on Friday to show that most of the people want to remain French.

The rally is planned to be held outside the French High Commission in Noumea and to coincide with the arrival of the president of the French National Assembly.

Walter Zweifel reports.

The rally is to say no to independence and for New Caledonia to remain French.

The parties accuse the French Socialist government of siding with the pro-independence camp while a majority in New Caledonia wants to stay French.

They are incensed at a law proposal before the Senate which would automatically enrol only indigenous Kanaks for the indepedendence referendum due by 2018.

This means, they say, that tens of thousands will be forced to prove that they are Caledonians as well.

A similar pro-French rally was held last November when the French President paid a brief visit to Noumea.RNZI

POLYNESIA

6) Cook Islands opposition hopes to repair relationship

20 APRIL 2015

The newly-appointed leader of the opposition Cook Islands Democratic Party says he’s hoping to improve his party’s relationship with the other oppostion party, One Cook Islands, ahead of the next election.

William George was appointed leader by a sizeable majority at the party’s conference last week, after the former leader, Wilkie Rasmussen, resigned following a heavy defeat in a by-election on Aitutaki.

A coalition between the Democrats and One Cook Islands for that by-election fell apart after the sudden death of their shared candidate, Kete Ioane, when One Cook Islands put forward its own candidate, pitting the two parties against each other and the ruling Cook Islands Party.

Mr George says he has met with the leader of One Cook Islands, Teina Bishop, and the two have agreed to consolidate their relationship.

“We all have our different issues, we all have our own issues as well — it’s hard to come together. But I believe I have to give this a go. Maybe we will achieve what we’re after.”RNZI

MICRONESIA

7) Resilient Residents Rebuild In FSM While Aid Efforts Continue
Typhoon Maysak destroyed most of food crops

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 17, 2015) – More than two weeks after Typhoon Maysak lashed the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), aid workers are still working to provide emergency assistance to those in need.

The typhoon tore through islands in Micronesia last month, killing at least five people and leaving thousands displaced.

Volunteers from the Red Cross carried out assessments in the remote islands of Chuuk and Yap states, the areas most severely affected by the storm.

They have delivered supplies such as tarpaulins, water containers, lanterns and cooking sets.

Red Cross spokeswoman Karen Leiva, in Yap, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that immediate relief had been distributed.

“What we’re hearing is people in the affected communities, in the majority, they have what they need,” she said.

“But the second set of needs are coming forward. Food and water are going to be the major issues going forward …. because in the islands, most of the food crops … were damaged.

“It’s obvious nutrition is going to be an issue.”

Ms Leiva said water tanks in storm-hit areas were destroyed or contaminated in the storm.

She said the storm had shaken locals but they were pitching in to rebuild.

“This is a really strong group of people,” she said.

“They started to rebuild almost immediately, they’re not waiting for anything.

“There’s no question there was trauma here, some of the villages were completely destroyed but they were very quick to get up and try to return life back to normality.”

Ms Leiva said FSM would need to look at cyclone-proof housing.

“Right now they need to rebuild until they have proper shelter, because some of them, they’re having to sleep in the local church, or the local schools. So they need to get a structure up so that they have a roof over their head,” she said.

“There’s definitely got to be some long-term planning on how to build those homes back stronger.”

Radio Australia

8) CNMI Seeks Extra Time To Review Military Environmental Review
1,000 page draft called too long, technical to review in a month

By Joel D. Pinaroc

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 20, 2015) – For Department of Land and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Seman, the danger of having to review a draft environmental impact statement on proposed military activities on the CNMI is that of missing “something critical.”

Seman said he fully supports the call for a six-month extension of the draft EIS review because “we do not want to miss anything that is critical.”

From a scientific point of view, Seman said that reading the more-than-1,000-page draft report is just the start.

“What will take time is the research part on what the document is saying,” Seman said.

He noted that from his own initial review, there are a lot of provisions in the draft EIS on endangered species and questions on environmental impacts.

The official said “this is such a big issue” and that residents and officials “must use science” and “not emotions” in reviewing the document.

He likened the need for more research to a courtroom rebuttal, where scientific facts and supporting research should be heard and considered.

The draft EIS has been described as “too technical”

The Inos administration requested for the review extension, followed by lawmakers.

Funds have also been made available, because the EIS review will require experts outside the CNMI.

Another funding is being eyed specifically for Pagan, which is under the jurisdiction of the Northern Islands. A $75,000 funding to study the draft EIS, particularly on Pagan, is being worked on.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) earlier said the Department of the Interior has announced a technical assistance grant of $250,000 to the Office of the Governor to hire environmental experts to review the draft EIS.

Sablan said the funds are appropriated by Congress and allows the department to respond to “critical needs in the insular areas for which local funds are not available.”

Saipan Tribune

AUSTRALIA

9) Aid cuts could backfire in Pacific region, think tank warns 

By Online Editor
5:05 pm GMT+12, 19/04/2015, Australia

Australia’s foreign aid budget cuts could backfire in the Pacific region, a leading think tank warns.

According to a new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, cutting aid by $11 billion (US$8.6 billion) over four years to help offset a boost to defence spending may prove counterproductive.

The federal government insists the trimmed down aid budget will prioritise the Asia Pacific region however, cuts are expected to programs across the board.

Dr Karl Claxton argued in the report that to avoid the likelihood of leading costly interventions in the Pacific, Australia had to lift its game on preventing friction in the first place.

“Reducing deprivation and inequality as potential sparks for violence can deliver strategic benefits,” Dr Claxton said.

Australia’s stabilisation mission in 2003 to rescue the Solomon Islands cost $2.6 billion (US$2 billiion) over 10 years.

Kiribati, Vanuatu, East Timor, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu are on the United Nation’s 2014 list of least developed countries.

Dr Claxton said the aid budget should be restored as soon as circumstances permit but in the meantime the economies of struggling Pacific island nations could be boosted by the expansion of Australia’s seasonal workers programme.

The report also called for Australia to adopt a smorgasbord rather than one-size-fits-all approach to Pacific trade negotiations and to coax Fiji back into regional bodies.

Dr Claxton said Australia’s increased focus on pressing global issues shouldn’t be at the expense of attention on security and development challenges closer to home, where there’s the greatest ability to make a difference.

SOURCE: AAP/PACNEWS

10) New South Wales ranked Australia’s top economy due to strong housing market: CommSec report

Updated 20 April 2015, 13:05 AEST

By finance reporter Justine Parker

CommSec’s latest State of the States report ranks New South Wales as the best performing economy followed by the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

The booming property market in New South Wales saw the state rank as number one in terms of dwelling starts and number two in terms of housing finance. (Credit: Reuters)

New South Wales has reclaimed the title of the nation’s best performing economy as the strong housing market props up the state’s finances.

CommSec’s latest quarterly State of the States report shows the Northern Territory, which shared the top spot with NSW three months ago, now takes second place, followed by the former mining powerhouse of Western Australia.

The report assesses each jurisdiction on several factors including economic growth, retail spending, unemployment, population growth and the housing sector.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said although the Northern Territory had the strongest economic growth and jobs market in the country, driven by huge liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, it was pipped for the top spot due to the relative weakness of its housing sector and population growth.

“The state and territory economies that are performing well have the strength in terms of housing,” he said.

“So we’re seeing that very much in New South Wales, [which is] number one in terms of dwelling starts and number two in terms of housing finance, and of course they’re on top of the economic leader board.”

The strength of the booming New South Wales property market saw it top the rankings in terms of dwelling starts and retail trade. It also had the strongest population growth.

Western Australia remained in third place due to being ranked last on unemployment.

The report found that while the state’s trend unemployment rate was the third lowest in the nation at 5.7 per cent, this was more than 35 per cent higher than the state’s decade average.

Mr James said momentum was gathering in the Victorian economy, where strong population growth was boosting housing construction.

The state was the best performer on the housing finance indicator.

“It is now showing signs of closing the gap on Western Australia in the economic performance ladder,” Mr James said.

Although Tasmania remains in last place overall, the report found there were brighter signs for its economy, with the trend unemployment rate at a more-than-three-year low.

“What we’re seeing in Tasmania in terms of dwelling starts is that they’re up 50 per cent on a year ago,” Mr James said.

“And when we’re looking out over the next six to 12 months, that strength that we’re seeing in new dwelling starts is going to feed its way right through the Tasmanian economy.”Radio Australia

FRENCH

11) Climat : où en sont les engagements des Etats avant la conférence de Paris

A l’approche de la conférence Paris Climat 2015, prévue en décembre, plusieurs Etats ont rendu leurs contributions établissant leurs engagements de réduction de gaz à effet de serre.

Le Monde.fr | 2015/04/11 13:39:06- mis à jour le 2015/04/13 10:45:44

12) Brèves du Pacifique – vendredi 17 avril 2015 

Posté à 17 April 2015, 18:44 AEST
Élodie Largenton

Des représentants de Papouasie occidentale ont été arrêtés par la police indonésienne.

Selon le journal Tabloid Jubi, ces sept membres du Conseil coutumier de Papouasie sont accusés de vouloir « construire un État indépendant, ce qui est considéré comme un acte de trahison ». Cette arrestation fait suite à une conférence de presse, lors de laquelle les Papous ont affirmé avoir rencontré le ministre indonésien de la Défense, de manière informelle. Ce dernier leur aurait dit qu’il était temps que des négociations s’ouvrent sur l’indépendance de la Papouasie occidentale.

  • La lutte contre le travail des enfants affiche de bons résultats à Fidji. Avec l’appui de l’Organisation internationale du travail et de l’Union européenne, ils sont plus de 1 000 à avoir pu retrouver une vie d’enfant, à avoir repris le chemin de l’école au lieu de travailler. Ce bilan concerne les années 2008 à 2013, mais l’action se poursuit, et se renforce même avec l’ouverture d’un centre d’aide, où les enfants peuvent prendre conseil et signaler des maltraitances.
  • Les recherches vont se poursuivre pour retrouver l’avion de la Malaysia Airlines, disparu il y a plus d’un an. L’Australie, la Malaisie et la Chine viennent de se mettre d’accord pour étendre la zone de recherche. Elle sera même doublée, et couvrira 120 000 kilomètres carrés au large de l’Australie. Le vol MH370 a disparu le 8 mars 2014, alors qu’il faisait route de Kuala Lumpur à Pékin avec 239 personnes à bord.
  • Le mariage homosexuel autorisé à Guam. Le territoire américain estime qu’il est plus simple de lever l’interdiction que de répondre en justice à un couple de femmes, qui vient de porter plainte après s’être vu refuser le droit de se marier. Selon la ministre de la Justice, l’interdiction du mariage gay à Guam est « inapplicable ». « Le mariage est un droit fondamental qui ne peut pas être refusé pour des questions de genre », argue la ministre. Le gouverneur de Guam est moins favorable à l’idée : il souhaite organiser un référendum sur la question.
  • Et puis, cet exploi des volleyeuses vanuataises. Un mois après avoir subi le passage du cyclone Pam, l’équipe féminine de beach-volley remporte le tournoi d’Asie. Miller Pata et Linlin Matauatu ont battu l’Indonésie en finale. La préparation n’a pourtant pas été facile pour la paire : Linlin Matauatu a perdu sa maison dans le village de Mele, sur l’île d’Éfaté, et s’était réfugiée dans une église avec sa famille. Leur terrain d’entraînement a aussi été rendu impraticable par le cyclone.Radio Australia

PASIFIK

13) PI Forum Calls For New Regionalism Framework Proposals
Ideas to be put to leaders at September summit in PNG

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 20, 2015) – The Pacific Island Forum is calling for proposals from Pacific Islanders on the new framework for Pacific regionalism which will be put forward as the leaders’ agenda in the upcoming September summit in Port Moresby.

The new subcommittee made up of eight experts includes a mix of civil society, business and public sector specialists from the Pacific, will take proposals on issues affecting people of the Pacific.

Forum secretary general, Dame Meg Taylor says the subcommittee will make it easier for Pacific leaders to make informed decisions on the most pressing priorities for developing the region.

Dame Meg told journalists in Suva she is optimistic the new framework on regional architecture will work.

“I’m clear of the fact that I’m not a leader of the Pacific, I’m the secretary general of the secretariat that serve the people of the Pacific, this is the mandate that we’ve been given as the secretariat and my role is to make sure that it happens,” she said.

The committee met in Suva for the first time this week since their appointment to define their role and to look at ways to successfully implement the framework.

The committee would begin receiving proposals and submissions from April 27 before they meet again in July to review the proposals of which only five will be selected and put forward to the Pacific leaders to consider at the leaders meeting in PNG.

“Our role specifically is to ensure the effectiveness, going forward on issues that come to us that are move forward,” said subcommittee member from Cook Islands Manarangi Trott.

PNG Post-Courier

WORLD

14) Mystery disease

Afp
Monday, April 20, 2015

LAGOS – A “mysterious” disease that kills patients within 24 hours has claimed 18 lives in a southeastern Nigerian town, the Government says.

“Twenty-three people (were affected) and 18 deaths were recorded,” the Ondo state health commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, said yesterday.

The Government spokesman for the state, Kayode Akinmade, earlier gave a toll of 17 dead.

“Seventeen people have died of the mysterious disease since it broke out early this week in Ode-Irele town,” Mr Akinmade told AFP by telephone.

The disease, whose symptoms include headache, weight loss, blurred vision and loss of consciousness, killed the victims within a day of falling ill, he said.

Laboratory tests have so far ruled out Ebola or any other virus, Mr Akinmade said.

The World Health Organization meanwhile said it had information on 14 cases with at least 12 dead.

“Common symptoms were sudden blurred vision, headache, loss of consciousness followed by death, occurring within 24 hours,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP by email, adding that an investigation was still in progress.

Another WHO spokesman, Gregory Hartl, told AFP that according to a preliminary report, all those affected began showing symptoms between April 13 and 15.

Mr Akinmade said health officials and experts from the Government and aid agencies, as well as WHO epidemiologists, had arrived in Ode-Irele to search for answers.

The state’s health commissioner, Adeyanju, told AFP that he and his officials had gone on a “field visit with the WHO, UNICEF, NCDC (Nigerian Centre for Disease Control)”.

“This was basically a case search to unravel the cause (of the disease),” he said in a text message.

The WHO’s Jasarevic said blood and urine samples had been taken from two victims and cerebrospinal fluid from another.

15) Taiwan earthquake: Strong quake rattles Taiwan, prompting short-lived tsunami warning for Okinawa

Updated 20 April 2015, 15:25 AEST

A strong earthquake rattles Taiwan and small islands in the far south of Japan, prompting a short-lived tsunami warning for the Okinawa island chain.

One man has died and another has been hospitalised in a fire caused by a powerful quake off Taiwan that also set buildings shaking in Taipei and sparked a short-lived tsunami warning in far south-western Japan.

Japanese forecasters had warned the 6.6-magnitude earthquake could cause a tsunami as high as one-metre affecting several islands in the Okinawa chain, but lifted the alert around an hour later, with no abnormal waves recorded.

No damage was reported in Japan, but a four-storey apartment building in part of New Taipei City caught ablaze after an electrical box outside the block exploded in the quake.

One elderly man who lived in the building “showed no signs of life” at the scene, the fire service said.

Another resident was hospitalised after choking in the blaze, local media reported.

Residents and office workers were evacuated from a building in central Taipei because of a feared gas leak and reports said several vehicles were trapped in the basement.

It was not immediately clear if there were any people stuck with their cars.

Quake caused no serious damage in Japan

In Japan, local authorities urged people to move away from the coast and seek higher ground, in a drill that has become fairly regular in a country prone to powerful earthquakes and occasional devastating tsunamis.

“We are issuing warnings via the radio,” Satoshi Shimoji of the Miyako City government told NHK after the alert was issued.

“We want residents to get as far as possible from the sea,” he said.

Boats were seen sailing out to sea — common practice when a tsunami warning is issued because away from the coast, a tsunami is little different from a swell.

However, an hour after the quake, the Japan Meteorological Agency cancelled the warning.

Photo: The earthquake struck near Yonaguni, off Taiwan’s east coast. (Google Maps)

The US Geological Survey said the 6.6-magnitude quake, which Japanese authorities had originally put at 6.8, struck 71 kilometres east of Hualien, Taiwan at 11:43am AEST.

In Tokyo, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters officials were still collecting information, but that the quake did not appear to have done serious damage.

Japan sits at the confluence of four of the earth’s tectonic plates and records more than 20 per cent of the planet’s most powerful earthquakes every year.

Strict building codes and a long familiarity with the dangers mean quakes that might cause devastation in other parts of the world are frequently uneventful in Japan.

However, occasional disasters prove exceptionally deadly, and more than 18,000 people were killed by a huge tsunami that smashed into the northeast coast in 2011 after a huge 9.0-magnitude earthquake.

Kuo Kai-wen, chief of Taiwan’s Seismology Centre, warned there could be more quakes.

“This was the third quake measuring more than 6.0 magnitude in Taiwan so far this year — we would not rule out the likelihood that there might be more strong quakes of this scale.”

AFP

16) Zuma vows to end attacks on migrants

Bbc
Monday, April 20, 2015

South African President Jacob Zuma has visited a refugee camp in the port of Durban after a fresh outbreak of anti-foreigner violence.

Mr Zuma told those who had fled the violence that it went against South African values and he would bring it to an end. But he was jeered by some in the crowd who accused him of acting too slowly. At least six people have died in xenophobic attacks in Durban, with violence spreading to other areas.

Migrants, mostly from other African states and Asia, have moved to South Africa in large numbers since white-minority rule ended in 1994.

17) Floating seahorse

Gizmag
Saturday, April 18, 2015

DEVELOPER Kleindienst Group is planning to construct 42 floating properties as part of the Heart of Europe development in Dubai.

Technically classified as a boat, the Floating Seahorse offers an entire floor of submerged living, providing clear views of marine life beneath the gentle waves of the Persian Gulf.

The Floating Seahorse boats will be moored offshore from the St Petersburg and Main Europe Islands, a short boat ride from the coast of Dubai. The “marine style retreats” offer a floor space of 1700 square feet.

A total of 42 properties will be constructed, each comprising three floors, two of which are above water level and one of which is below.

The central, sea level floor will consist of an open plan living area, fully-fitted kitchen and dining area, while the upper floor offers an outdoor shower, mini bar, kitchenette, informal bed and glass-bottomed Jacuzzi.

The master bedroom and bathroom are fully submerged on the lower floor, with large windows providing a clear view of the marine life in the surrounding coral reef.

Work will start on the luxury floating homes in the second half of 2015, with the first villas scheduled for completion some time in 2016.

HEALTH

18) Ministry implements measures on expired drugs – Fiji’s Pharmaceuticals and Biomedical Services centre (FPBS) is pursuing the setting up of a new information system that allows it to link up with all health facilities as part of measures to address the issue of expired drugs. Acknowledging the findings by the Auditor General’s Office about millions lost in expired drugs, the Ministry of Health says a good logistic information system will allow for better planning, accurate data and addressing in a timely manner demands by all health facilities in Fiji.

http://fijilive.com/news/2015/04/ministry-implements-measures-on-expired-drugs/60844.Fijilive

EDUCATION

19) Major loopholes identified in prominent schools – The Ministry of Education has identified the main reasons behind the overcrowding of boarding schools around the country annually. Appearing on FBC TV 4 The Record programme last night Education Minister says upon closer examination it was found out that some schools were going against their own school policies in selecting students to be admitted. Schools like Queen Victoria School, Ratu Kadavulevu School and Adi Cakobau School were amongst schools identified.

http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/28709/major-loopholes-identified-in-prominent-schools#sthash.L2KymPPg.dpuf

20) Minister ready to meet with ex-scholars 
– The Education Minister said he is eager to meet with the ex-scholars of Adi Cakobau School, Ratu Kadavulevu School and Queen Victoria School after reports emerged that they are planning to convince the Minister to have these schools privatized. Education Minister Dr. Mahendra Reddy said the Ministry considers them as important stakeholders therefore the Ministry is looking forward to discussing the concerns with them.

http://fijivillage.com/news/Minister-ready-to-meet-with-ex-scholars-5r9sk2/

21) School Zoning Policy has not failed: Minister – Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy has clarified that the ‘School Zoning Policy’ has NOT failed and will remain in place. However he says the Ministry will revisit the Policy to identify loopholes. Dr Reddy says they have found that the policy which has been in place since 2011 has not been complied with in some cases.

http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/28708/school-zoning-policy-has-not-failed-minister#sthash.evJhsy9Z.dpuf

22) Plans for more colleges

Litia Matthewsell
Monday, April 20, 2015

LABOUR Minister Jioje Konrote said he was hopeful that the establishment of more technical colleges would fill the void of suitably qualified personnel for various growing sectors.

“Fiji’s continued and steady economic annual growth rate of about 3.8 to 4 per cent over the past five years has resulted in a corresponding growth in the building industry and other sectors like hospitality and tourism which lack suitably qualified and experienced semi-skilled personnel,” he said.

He was speaking at the graduation of about 50 students from the Australia-Pacific Technical College in Nadi on Friday.

“In an attempt to address and satisfactorily resolve this unfortunate shortfall and acute problem within the Fiji labour market, Government is planning to build and complete three technical colleges — two have been commissioned this year with another ten being planned for the future.”

Mr Konrote said to address such a shortfall, the Government welcomed the contribution of NGOs such as APTC in complementing its efforts.FIJITIMES

POLITIC

23) Solomons to modernise intellectual property rights law

Updated at 10:33 am today

The Solomon Islands is in the process of reviewing its draft intellectual property strategy in a push to modernise the country’s protection laws which date back to the early 1900s.

Photo: RNZI Koroi Hawkins

The Ministries of Justice, Tourism and Foreign Affairs are all pitching into the project with Intellectual property rights experts and a representative from the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Freddy Me’esa, says there is an urgent need to protect Solomon Islanders and their culture, traditional knowledge and practices from exploitation in this internet age.

“The overall strategic objective of that intellectual property rights strategy for Solomon Islands is to create, protect, manage and use intellectual property as strategic tools for the economic social and technological development of Solomon Islands.”

Freddy Me’esa says getting a bill before parliament may be a while off but he is hoping the country can gain membership to the World Intellectual Property Organisation and sign up to the respective Berne and Paris intellectual and industrial property protection treaties this year.RNZI

24) Me’ekamui grup i stopim ABG i mekim ileksan kempein

Updated 20 April 2015, 14:09 AEST
Sam Seke

Ol laen blong Me’ekamui long Kono long South Bougainville ibin stopim ol kandidet blong Autonomous Bougainville Gavman long go kampen long hap blong ol.

Odio: Aloysius Laukai bosman blong New Dawn FM long Bougainville itoktok wantem Sam Seke

Ol laen blong Me’ekamui long Kono long South Bougainville ibin stopim ol kandidet blong Autonomous Bougainville Gavman long go kampen long hap blong ol.

New Dawn FM em ibin wok long traim painim aut moa long dispela stori itok ol Me’ekamui ino tokaut long wanem samting tru i mekim ol  i stopim ol kandidet long to kampen long hap.

Autonomous region blong Bougainville bai holim ol ABG President na palamen eleksan stat long namba 11 long May.

Manager blong New Dawn FM, Aloysius Laukai itok ol chief nau wok long toktok wantaim ol Me’ekamui komanda long larim ol pipol long komiuniti i vout.Radio Australia

25) Fiji and Vanuatu in the mix at Jakarta summit

Radio NZ International
Monday, April 20, 2015

Update: 4:28PM Fiji and Vanuatu are among countries with representatives attending this week’s Asia Africa Conference in Jakarta as observers.

The conference is a gathering of 77 developing countries for discussions on development and co-operation programmes.

For both island countries, attendance has meant forging closer ties to Indonesia’s government.

On the sidelines of the summit, Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Sato Kilman met his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi, and discussed his government’s plan to open an embassy in Jakarta.

Ms Marsudi also met with Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola for talks about extending free visa requirements for diplomatic passport holders of both nations.

The Shanghai Daily reports Marsudi saying discussion included looking at ways to enhance bilateral ties in economic areas and peacekeeping missions.

There are also plans to hold a bilateral ministerial meeting in Fiji in August.

26) Local Support For West Papua Increasing In Solomons
Independence leader seeks support for Spearhead Group application

By Bradford Theonomi

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, April 19, 2015) – A West Papua independence leader was in the country for the past week rallying support for his home country to be part of the Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG).

Octovianus Mote, an exiled West Papuan who now lives in the United States, is the general secretary of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

The movement has lodged its membership application to the MSG, which will be deliberated on when MSG leaders meet during their summit in Honiara in July this year.

While here, he met civil society groups, West Papua sympathisers, and prominent leaders.

Mote told the Sunday Star every single person is needed to support West Papua’s application to the MSG and their fight for freedom.

West Papua, whose people are Melanesians, was being ruled by Indonesia for the last 53 years.

“Of course, there are many ways to support West Papua’s freedom, especially our application to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which is the main focus and objective for now,” Mote said.

“Solomon Islands citizens you are our wantok, your support in whatever form in the social media or whatever platform to mobilise information,” he added.

Mote said for the last 53 years, West Papuans have suffered under the brutal occupation of their land by the Indonesian government.

“What you can do is simply rally behind us as Melanesians; we want to be part of that MSG as brothers and sister with Melanesian heritage.

“It’s no use proclaiming your support, but did not cast papers into supporting West Papua’s application for MSG membership.”

He said other regional organisations have pledged their support for the West Papuan cause.

Mote also met West Makira MP Derick Manu’ari, a staunch advocator for the West Papuan independence cause.

Manu’ari said like most groups or movements supporting West Papua, “we all want West Papua to be granted MSG full membership status”.

“It is important to take note of upcoming events and make sure the rally and support we give our brothers and sisters are effective,” the West Makira MP said.

“Solidarity amongst such movements regionally is important, especially amongst the Melanesian countries,” he added.

Manu’ari said he’s intending to move a motion on the floor of parliament seeking support for the West Papuan cause from national leaders.

Solomon Star

27) Vanuatu To Open Embassy In Jakarta: Foreign Minister Kilman

Improved relations with Indonesia won’t alter West Papua stance

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 20, 2015) – Vanuatu’s foreign minister Sato Kilman has reportedly indicated that his government is to open an embassy in Indonesia’s capital.

Mr Kilman confirmed this to local media while in Jakarta for this week’s Asia-Africa Conference, a gathering of 77 countries for discussions on development and co-operation programmes between developing countries.

He said that the opening of an embassy would happen as soon as possible and strengthen co-operation between the two countries.

Due to Vanuatu’s long-held support for West Papuan independence, its government relations with Indonesia were previously remote.

Mr Kilman was prime minister of Vanuatu in 2012 when the government controversially forged an initial co-operation agreement with Jakarta, although subsequent configurations of government stepped back from closer links.

However, following last month’s devastation in Vanuatu from Cyclone Pam, Mr Kilman welcomed Indonesia’s contribution of 2 million US dollars in relief.

He denied that the assistance would have any bearing on Vanuatu support for the West Papuan bid to become a member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group at which Indonesia has observer status.

Meanwhile, after meeting with Mr Kilman in Jakarta, Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi has placed the closer links with Vanuatu as part of Jakarta’s overall outreach to Melanesian states.

She says Indonesia’s Melanesian population is greater than the population of other Melanesian countries combined, making her country an integral part of Melanesia.

To promote its Melanesian links, Ms Marsudi said that Indonesia plans to host a major Melanesian culture and arts event in October.

Radio New Zealand International

MEDIA

28) MAV appeals to journalists to guard against violating media ethics

Posted: Friday, April 17, 2015 1:00 pm

The Media Association of Vanuatu (MAV) is cautioning its members, particularly the journalists and editors who work in the media industry of the country, to exercise the utmost care and professionalism in carrying out their duties of informing the masses.

Particularly, during this time after the effects of Cyclone Pam when there is a lot happening with relief distribution.

MAV is appealing to its members to double check all information they receive and to check all sources to ensure the information they receive is correct and genuine.

As the work of assisting the people devastated by Tropical Cyclone Pam continues and the challenges associated with this task increases, it is doubly important for journalists to increase their guard against mistakes that could heighten tensions within the communities and also the government at this critical time.

The Prime Minister, Joe Natuman, was infuriated at a recent press conference over reports in The Independent newspapers alleging that a child had died from hunger on Tanna reportedly due to the alleged slow progress of distributing food relief.

News of the same incident was also understood to have been run by national radio or VBTC three days earlier, before it was published by The Independent.

The fact that the Prime Minister was infuriated by the reporting of the incident again points to the fact that journalists and media organizations need to be on their guard at all times against violating the all-important ethics of journalism.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

29) PNG Gavman ino ken taitim Social midia law

Updated 20 April 2015, 14:20 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Gavman blong Papua New Guinea ino ken tingting long strongim ol loa egensim Social media long wonem despla bai daonim wok blong midia freedom long kantri.

Odio: Martyn Namorong, wanpela social midia mansave blong PNG na emi toktok wantem Caroline Tiriman

Gavman blong Papua New Guinea ino ken tingting long strongim ol loa egensim Social media long wonem despla bai daonim wok blong midia freedom long kantri.

Despla em toktok blong wanpla mansave long ol wok midia long PNG, Martyn Namorong  bihaenim ol nius ripot long 2012 olsem gavman i laik taitim ol loa egensim Social midia olsem facebook na Twitter.

Emi tok social midia iwanpla rot em ol pipal iken bihaenim na luksave long ol heve emi wok long kamap long gavman olsem korapsan.

Mr Namorong itok social midia i wanpla kaen samting emi wok long pulim planti handrat tausan ol PNG pipal na sopos gavman i kamapim despla loa em bai kamapim heve long demokratic right blong ol pipal.Radio Australia

30) Radio broadcaster drums up coverage tempo

Source:
The National, 17th of April 2015

THE National Broadcasting Commission is spearheading live broadcasts with its new programme “NBC Tok Sport”, leading up to the 2015 Pacific Games from July 4-18 in Port Moresby.
The project will build-up to the Games and then focus on nationwide live broadcasts from sports venues using links with all provincial radio stations.
The programme is aired on Saturday and Sundays from 1pm to 5pm.
Five years ago, Australia Broadcasting Commission journalist Aaron Karney conducted courses for the NBC’s field officers.
The broadcasting crew are now relaying live broadcasts around sporting venues (basketball, rugby league, touch football, AFL, bowl) in Port Moresby.
Senior sports journalist and producer Paul Taumik Jr said the national broadcaster was aiming to improve its coverage and variety of sports through the programme.
“Covering all these sports taking place in the city will prepare use for the Pacific Games in July,” Taumik

BUSINESS,TRADE

31) Fiji Reserve Bank calls for policy shift in Data Bureau
 – The Reserve Bank of Fiji is calling for a policy shift from the Data Bureau towards a positive focus of consumers’ credit behavior. The Data Bureau collects credit details on individuals and businesses in the country but is not regulated by the Reserve Bank of Fiji. The Fiji Consumer Council recently accused the agency of breaching the constitution and violating the privacy rights of consumers by selling their private information without their knowledge. The call comes after concerns were raised about the consumers’ right to have their credit records erased from the Data Bureau system after their arrears were settled.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/271628/fiji-reserve-bank-calls-for-policy-shift-in-data-bureau

32) Competitive edge

Felix Chaudhary
Saturday, April 18, 2015

AFTER six years as a mobile telecommunications provider in the country, Digicel Fiji says one of its greatest achievements has been the level of competition it has brought to Fiji.

CEO Darren McLean said Fiji had been and continued to be Digicel’s most competitive market in the Pacific.

“Digicel is in six markets in the Pacific — Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa and Nauru and the rates people pay for calls and text messages in the Fiji market is rock bottom,” he said.

“We have been very happy with the progress we’ve made in last six and a half years.

“Fiji’s a strategic investment for Digicel and we’ve made a concerted effort to focus on three key areas — service, network and value,” he said.fijitimes

33) Fiji Workshop Looks To Expand Trade, Investment With NZ

Government committed to reengagement with traditional partners

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 20, 2015) – The Government is fully committed to its policy of developing new markets and forging new trade relationships, [and] encourages re-engagement with our traditional partners to create new trade and investment opportunities that benefit us all, says Fiji’s Minister for Industry and Trade Faiyaz Koya.

Opening a 4-day workshop in Suva today aimed to entice New Zealand businesses to invest in Fiji, Mr Koya assured interested business owners and former residents alike of the Fijian Government’s support.

[PIR editor’s note: The Fiji Times reported that ‘about 12 New Zealand investors are in the country on a business mission. … New-Zealand- Fiji Business Council president Chandar Sen says that among the investors are former residents of Fiji who hold dual passports.’]

Mr Koya said the government stands ready to work side-by-side with the business community in New Zealand to reignite trade and investment between the two countries.

“New Zealand and Fiji are natural trading partners and we must work together to reach the full potential of our relationship,” Mr Koya said.

“As Captains of Industry, I call on you here today to encourage your Government representatives to be part of developing opportunities together.”

He highlighted positives of investing in Fiji, among others being the hub of the region and the recent revised upward growth forecast for 2015 by the Reserve Bank of Fiji, encouraging participants to take advantage.

The government has also not sit on its laurels, implementing measures including the upgrade of key infrastructure such as roads, airports, all of which to encourage growth and development in the country.

“As a result total investment in Fiji has been on an upward trajectory since 2009, reaching the highest level since the 1980s which, in 2013, accounted for 29 per cent of the GDP or $2.154billion.

“It will be for the first time in Fijian history that investment will be above 25 per cent for three consecutive years,” Mr Koya said.

“We don’t want New Zealand investors and businesses to miss out on what we consider the best trade and investment climate Fiji has ever seen.”

The workshop is being held at Tanoa Plaza. It ends Friday.

Fijilive

34) Jack’s of Fiji’s official opening impresses

Source:
The National, Monday April 20th, 2015

THE City Pharmacy Ltd (CPL) Group last Friday officially opened a K5 million investment in retail business, Jack’s of PNG.
This was done in partnership with Jack’s of Fiji and marked an important expansion for CPL and a significant step towards elevating the shopping experience in Papua New Guinea.
The launching was the second investment by CPL with a Fijian firm last week.
Last Tuesday, it announced a joint venture arrangement with Fiji’s Motibhai Group to operate a duty free shop at the Jackson International airport, Port Moresby.
Jack’s of PNG carries specialty brands like Rip Curl and sells mid-priced brand-name apparel, accessories, cosmetics, gifts, jewellery and shoes.
A customer, Cecilia Norea said: “This shop is good, most of us average Papua New Guineans cannot
go to Fiji to buy Fijian garments, now the garments are at our doorstep.”
General manager for commercials Omprakash Seshadri said Jack’s of PNG planned to open more stores in few years’ time if there are good locations.
He said the price of items were on par with that of Fiji because of the trade agreement among Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) member nations.
“Pricing point of stuff brought in from Fiji to what we sell here is not very different.
“We want to explore the designs by Papua New Guinean artists, through Jack’s (PNG) maybe we can spread out and show what Papua New Guineans can offer in terms of art,” he said.

INFRASTRUCTURE

35) Residents pleased with upgraded road

Published: 19 April 2015

Residents of Kobito and Lau Valley area in east Honiara say they were grateful for the work done to upgrade their feeder road.

Work on the road had been going on for the past days, undertaken by Trade Transformation Company (TTC).

The project was funded by the government with support from donors.

A spokesman for the contractor said they’ve been doing road upgrades in east Honiara over the past week.

“This is our last road,” the spokesman said.

Residents said it’s always a good feeling when they see their road upgraded to good condition.

“Taxi drivers are always willing to come all the way into our settlements when the road conditions are fine,” one resident said.

“If the government could tar-seal the road, it would be better.”

By LESLEY SANGA/SOLOMON STAR

36) Works Department ready to deliver quality bridges

Source:
The National, Monday April 20th, 2015

THE Department of Works and Implementation will do its best to deliver high quality bridges that can withstand floods in Northern, Secretary David Wereh says.
Wereh was in Popondetta last Thursday for the launching of the K139.4 million Bridges Construction Project and thanked the Oro people for their endurance and recovery after Cyclone Guba hit them in 2007. He said the cyclone caused a lot of damage.
“Cyclone Guba had brought about so many challenges for the Works Department to address the issues of bridges and roads,” he said.
The Australian Government is funding the construction of the four bridges.

LAW&ORDER

37) Border soldiers urged to remove checkpoints

Source:
The National, Monday April 20th, 2015

FORMER Sandaun Governor John Tekwie has urged soldiers manning the border with Indonesia to stop checking passengers already cleared by police and Customs officers.
He supported the call by Wutung councillor Raphael Tungla for the soldiers to remove their checkpoints and concentrate more on patrolling the border.
Tekwie said the soldiers should not be checking goods and passengers already cleared by police officers, Immigration and Customs officials and NAQIA officers at the border post.
“They are supposed to be patrolling the border,” he said.
“I am now calling on the PNGDF commander to immediately remove the road block and increase the patrolling.”
But the soldiers from the Vanimo Forward Base said they were confiscating contraband sneaked through by villagers. “The villagers were sneaking contraband such as Indonesian cigarettes across the border through bush tracks and bringing them to the village,” an officer who asked not to be identified said.
“They are now feeling the pinch of our activities and make this false statement to discredit our performance.”
The soldiers said they confiscated K10,000 worth of cigarettes from a villager last Friday.
“The cigarettes brought in from Jayapura were bound for Wewak in East Sepik.”
Tungla said a report he gave earlier about eight Indonesian soldiers crossing the border to PNG was wrong.
Indonesian consular in Vanimo Elmar Iwan Lubis had denied the report that Indonesian soldiers were crossing the border to the village.

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION,ENVIRONMENT

38) Biodiversity Assessment In PNG Uncovers 89 New Species
Insects, plants top species found at Hindenburg Wall

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 20, 2015) – A rapid biodiversity assessment of Western Province’s Hindenburg Wall has uncovered 89 species new to science.

Ants make up the largest group with scientists discovering 26 new species, followed by plants (23), odonates (16), Herpeto-fauna (ten), beetles (seven), butterflies (five), bats (one) and non-volant mammals (one). Out of the 89 species were 17 that were listed in a category higher than “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

A total of 1,108 animal and plant species were documented in the 2013 survey, which was funded by the Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) and was undertaken in partnership with the Department of Environment and Conservation.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (Papua New Guinea Program) published its report on the survey recently and said it showed that the Hindenburg Wall held “exceptional biodiversity values and harboured many of PNG’s threatened species”. These included echidnas, tree kangaroos, Papuan eagles, Pesquet’s Parrots, Black Sicklebills and Bulmer’s Fruit Bat.

Consequently, the rich biodiversity of the area and the importance of their conservation confirm the significance of the Hindenburg Wall under UNESCO operational guidelines, stated the WCS-authored report.

The Hindenburg Wall, the Muller Range and the Nakanai Mountains in West New Britain are all part of a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site listing. The rapid biodiversity assessment of Hindenburg Wall is part of a series of biological surveys in the region by a WCS-led team, comprising local and international scientists, to investigate the biological richness of the areas being proposed as UNESCO World Heritage Area.

The WCS-authored report said any moves to progress UNESCO World Heritage Area listing of the Hindenburg Wall could be taken up with the Department of Environment and Conservation, in order for a “nomination file” to be created in line with the requirements of the UNESCO World Heritage Site application process.

The report also stated that there needs to be intensive community consultation as well as the development of critical infrastructure. “This will likely necessitate the development of a conservation area, which in turn would help the Government of Papua New Guinea achieve its Convention on Biodiversity targets.

Local communities in the area have little idea that their area has already been put on the UNESCO tentative list – bridging this information gap must be a priority,” said the report.

PNG Post-Courier

MINING,FORESTRY,AGRICULTURE,FISHERIES,OIL,GAS,

39) More than 20 mineral firms here to operate

Published: 19 April 2015

More than 20 mineral companies are seeking exploration and mining licences from the national government to operate in the country.

Records the Sunday Star cited show a total of 129 applications have been lodged with the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification.

Topping the list are those eying offshore exploration.

Offshore or undersea exploration is currently being done in Papua New Guinea waters.

Documents show Bluewater Minerals (SI) Ltd is seeking to explore a total of 81 tenements in the country’s waters.

Of those 81, 67 tenements are under valid exploration licence while 14 are still pending the minister’s signature.

All tenements are located within Temotu province, while one at Kana Keoki in Western Province.

Japanese Sumitomo Mining is seeking six tenements in Isabel and Choiseul, but with only one valid exploration licence.

Other five tenements are still awaiting the outcome to their submitted application for mining lease to the Mines and Minerals Board.

In Guadalcanal, 22 applications have been submitted for various tenements on the island.

Of those companies showing interest, Australia Resource Management has one tenement of valid exploration at Kuma, while their licence for Fauro in Western Province had expired.

Solomon Bauxite has one valid exploration license for bauxite on Wagina Island; while Asia Pacific Development Limited had one for Rennell.

Solomon Alluvial Mining Ltd is seeking for its Guadalcanal tenement but this was never renewed.

Guadalcanal Exploration Pty Ltd is eying three tenements at Lower Koloula, Malakuna and Koloula extention on Guadalcanal.

Axiom Mining Ltd has two valid exploration and prospecting licenses; one on Guadalcanal and another in Western Province.

Solomon Commodities Ltd has two tenements valid under exploration licence on Guadalcanal while AU Capital Mining Pty Ltd has one valid tenement for North West Choiseul.

Linc Corporation Ltd has a valid licence to explore for phosphate and other minerals in Rennell.

Worldlink Gold and Copper Ltd have two tenements on Guadalcanal and a valid prospecting licence searches for Gold, copper and other minerals.

World Link Resources Ltd had been given two tenements – one on West Rennell and Ziata project in Western province.

Solomon Mining resources Ltd has a valid licence for a tenement on Guadalcanal, while is also eying three3 sites on Lithogahira, Isabel.

Solomon Islands Gold Pty Ltd has one valid prospecting licence on Guadalcanal.

Solomon Islands Property Investment Corporation (SIPIC) had applied for a tenement on Guadalcanal but is still awaiting the minister’s signature.

By BRADFORD THEONOMI//SOLOMON STAR

40) Asian markets target for seaweed exports

Source:
The National, Thursday April 16th, 2015

By GYNNIE KERO
PAPUA New Guinea plans to export another 300 tonnes of seaweed to Asian markets this year, National Fisheries Authority says.
Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries executive manager Jacob Wani said the country did a trial harvest of seaweed and did the first export to China in 2013.
In that year (2013), the world market price for seaweed was US$980 per tonne or K2,245 per tonne.
The authority has introduced seaweed farming trials in Bougainville and Milne Bay two years ago to help islanders earn an income to sustain their livelihoods.
“There is a market for seaweed; it’s used to make products used in body lotion, Colgate, etc.
“We did the first harvest in 2013 and trial export to China, we are looking at another 300 tonnes this year, first container has recently left Bougainville for Asian markets,” Wani said.
He stressed that high cost of domestic shipping as a challenge, adding that NFA was considering options to bring down the freight cost.
“The main constraint now is internal shipping; cost of container in domestic shipping is quite expensive. It costs around the same amount to send a container from Bougainville to Lae and to send from Bougainville to Malaysia, China or Singapore. Our domestic freighting is quite high so we are looking at options of increasing maybe production volume so that brings down the freight costs
“The high cost of domestic shipping is a major constraint for NFA,” Wani said.

41) Engineering students visit Hidden Valley 

Source:
The National, Monday April 20th, 2015

A field trip to the Hidden Valley mine by civil engineering students from the University of Technology has provided an insight into the design and construction of the mine’s tailings storage facility (TSF).
Forty-seven students visited the TSF as part of their practical lesson for assessment.
Mine senior civil engineer Eric Aba said it was an opportunity for the students to learn about the TSF.
“A lot of students asked questions about quality assurance and control on the type of tests that we do to maintain the facility,” Aba said.
“It’s good learning for the students because they get a first-hand experience on how things are done practically as they may have trade theory and knowledge but their trip here is practically helpful.”
Lecture Murray Konjang said  the mine was choosen to learn about the work of civil engineers and the work they do in the mining industry.
“Recently the students covered topics in soil embankments and slope stability so it’s good that they came and observed the real construction, the design and the risks involved,” Konjang said.

The group thanked Morobe Mining management for allowing them to visit the mine.

42) PNG in talks to raise billions to fund oil, gas plans

By Online Editor
10:51 pm GMT+12, 19/04/2015, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s National Petroleum Company (NPCP) said it is looking to raise billions of dollars to help fund new oil and gas projects, as the South Pacific country battles a sharp slump in forecast revenue from a plunge in prices for the commodities.

NPCP holds a 16.6-percent stake in the PNG LNG project, which operator ExxonMobil Corp wants to expand, and has rights to take up to a 20-percent stake in the Elk-Antelope fields, the country’s largest undeveloped gas resource.

While prospects for new liquefied natural gas developments globally have been hammered by the fallout from a 50-percent drop in oil prices since last June, projects in Papua New Guinea are seen as vital to the country’s economy.

“We are getting a financial adviser on board to work out the structure,” Robert Acevski, chief financial officer at NPCP, told Reuters by telephone on Monday.

“Eventually, we’ll go to the market to raise debt on top of our equity to participate in new projects.”

The projects, which have yet to be finalised, involve multinational firms such as Total SA, Exxon Mobil, Santos and Oil Search. Total operates the Elk-Antelope fields.

Funding an expansion of PNG LNG and any Elk-Antelope development will require NPCP to contribute billions of dollars in the next three years, so it makes sense for it to raise debt well before it needs the money, two industry executives said.

“There was a big increase in revenue that was on the cards only nine months ago, all predicated on the LNG revenue, which is of course drastically reduced. It’s an issue facing the whole country,” said Greg Anderson, executive director of the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum.

An adviser is expected to be appointed within weeks, with the fund raising to kick off later this year or in 2016, Acevski said.

The financing would include “plain” U.S.-denominated debt. The official said it was too early to give an exact amount, but said it would be in billions of dollars.

Papua New Guinea has a debt rating of B-plus from Standard and Poor’s and B1 from Moody’s. Its economy expanded by 8.4 percent last year, making it one of the fastest growing in the world.

SOURCE: REUTER/PACNEWS

43) PNG investor eyes Gold Ridge mine

By Online Editor
5:23 pm GMT+12, 19/04/2015, Solomon Islands

A Papua New Guinea investor is reportedly eying to purchase the Gold Ridge mine in central Guadalcanal, and create a joint venture with landowners.

Australian firm St Barbara is the current owner.

The mine was closed since April last year in the wake of the flash floods that hit Guadalcanal and Honiara.

It has not resume operation since and St Barbara now intends to sell the facility.

Head of Resource Policy in the Office of the Prime Minister Dr Christopher Vehe Sagapoa told Radio New Zealand International a PNG investor has shown interest in the mine.

“There is an investor from Papua New Guinea that is coming in to try and create a joint venture with the landowners to purchase the mine from St Barbara,” Sagapoa said.

“It hasn’t come to our knowledge how they have progressed with their arrangements and the government is not in the arrangements,” he added.

The last Lilo government had been negotiating with St Barbara for a possible transfer of ownership of the Gold Ridge mine to the Government.

However, the Sogavare government has already stated it has no intention to take over the mine.

Instead, it said it supported any moves for landowners to become joint ventures in the project.

The chairman of the Gold Ridge Community and Land Owners Association, Dick Douglas, has told Radio New International they are working with St Barbara and the national government to effect a transfer of ownership to Gold Ridge landowners.

“We need to participate fully in this development, we need to have the benefit out of our own resources,” Douglas said.

“And that is the government’s policy. Rather than we sit down and watch.

“And our vision is to get everything and then get all other aspects that the development within the industry,” he said.

Douglas added he hopes their efforts pave the way for other land-owning groups in Solomon Islands to take ownership of and develop their own resources.

SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS

44) Minister reveals plans for rice industry

Source:
The National, Monday April 20th, 2015

THE primary objective of the new PNG Rice Policy 2015–30 is for the country to achieve 100 per cent self-sufficiency in rice by 2030, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Tommy Tomscoll (pictured) says.
He said it was estimated that by 2030, Papua New Guinea’s domestic rice consumption demand would be more than 300,000 tonnes.
“The Government is driven by the apparent global decline in rice production and exports,” Tomscoll said.
“The lack of domestic large-scale rice production to match the population growth and rice consumption needs of PNG people.
“The opportunity to make use of unused arable land to grow rice which can be grown successfully in PNG for food security, food shortage emergencies and for exports.”  As such, Tomscoll said it was important that existing rice importers needed to obtain forms and register themselves and their interest so they could secure and legitimise their rice import quota allocations.
“This is important because under the O’Neill Government’s national rice policy, existing rice importers will only be allowed a certain percentage share of total rice imports for the next two years, while the Government will use the rest as incentive to attract and retain investment for a large scale mechanised commercial irrigated farming along an economic corridor,” he said.
Tomscoll said successful large scale investors would of course need to put up K200 million to offset any short-falls in rice imports over the first two years to qualify for pioneer status.
If granted pioneer status by the National Government, they would be granted appropriate and relevant incentives, protection and concessions to establish and develop rice in a large scale.
“The protections and incentives are to assist the investor as a new player entering into the high risk, low value end of the rice business in PNG and to assist in building a brand name and customer base,
and building meaningful relationships based on non-price factors such as product quality, service, patented features, environmental and civic involvement,” Tomscoll said.

45) FSC so-generation project to begin this year – The Fiji Sugar Corporation’s cogeneration project at Rarawai Mill in Ba worth an estimated FD$200 million will begin this year. FSC Executive Chairman Abdul Khan says work has progressed on the ground and expects construction to begin by the middle of this year. “The Exim Bank of India has given us a US$70 million facility the rest of the money will come from onshore. We just going to work on requirements for government guarantee for some of this lending but work has progressed to quite a level for example a lot of ground work has been done on site with all the testing the detailed drawings being carried out at the moment and we ready to go out for expressions of interest in India.”

http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/28707/fsc-so-generation-project-to-begin-this-year#sthash.JVSIyi68.dpuf

46) Use natural resources: Cawaki – Young people of Nasau District in Ra have been urged to fully maximise the potential of natural resources in their province as a source of income. Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Joeli Cawaki urged the youth to plant more produce to meet the local market and international market demand. He made the comments at an Empowerment Training in Nasau village recently.

http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/28720/use-natural-resources-cawaki#sthash.aV9nCL42.dpuf

47) Ministry hold discussions on the protection of timbers in the country – The Ministry of Forests and Fisheries is holding discussions with stakeholders and landowners on how to protect the timbers in the country. The Forests Principle Utilisation Officer, Semi Dranibaka said that the discussions include how to protect the timbers from termites and how to go through proper quarantine procedures. Dranibaka said the forest department have received complaints from international markets that the local timber are not of good quality.

http://fijivillage.com/news/-Ministry-hold-discussions-on-the-protection-of-timbers-in-the-country-r25sk9/

WOMAN,YOUTH,CHILD

48) Women urged to prepare for APEC

Source:
The National, Thursday April 16th, 2015

WOMEN in the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector have been urged to prepare themselves for the 2018 Asia Pacific
Economy Co-operation (APEC) summit to be held in Papua New Guinea.
PNG Women in Business executive director Janet Sape (pictured) said the summit would be an opportunity for women to promote and share information with participants coming from other countries and women must be prepared to talk about their businesses and the issues that affect them.
“This is the first time the APEC meeting has been held in Papua New Guinea and you women are truly privileged to be part of that as well,” Sape said yesterday.
“You will be interacting with a lot of people and you will be meeting with women from outside who are multimillionaires, women who are big corporate chief executive officers, executive managers and chairpersons.
“And you must prepare yourself to interact with them as you will be sharing information about your business and they would share their information.
“This information that you get will be vital in making sure your business advances.”
Sape said with the next women in business expo to be held in
July would be an opportunity for women to promote their business in preparation for the summit.
“We saw some amazing products at the first expo in March,” she said.
“But for those who did not come please do make an effort in the next expo.
“That is where you will expand business and you will bring your business out of the light.
“It’s a good thing when we have guests coming in so they can look at the level of businesses women are involved in.
“And at the end of the day it’s all about promoting and marketing our businesses,” she said.

SPORTS


50a) Vanuatu i Asian Champion long Beach Volleyball blong ol meri

Updated 17 April 2015, 15:01 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Tupla Ni-Vanuatu meri nau i kamap olsem ol Beach Volleyball sempion long Asian rijan bihaen long tupla ibin winim Indonesia long pilai long Thailand aste.

Miller Pata na  Linline Mansale ibin winim nambawan prais maski tupla ibin bungim ol bikpla heve long treining na moni taem cyclone Pam ibin hamarim kantri blong ol long mun igo pinis.

Long trinde tupla ibin winim Australia long semi finals long 2-Nil na long quarter finals tupla ibin winim tu Thailand.

Nau bai oli lusim Thailand long go long China long pilai gen long hap, na bihaen bai tupla i go long Vietnam.

President blong Vanuatu Volleyball Federation Debbie Masaufakalo itok win blong tupla i mekim ol pipal blong Vanuatu i hamamas bihaenim ol bikpla heve blong cyclone Pam.Radio Australia

50b) First female swimmers to Pacific Games

Published: 18 April 2015

THE Solomon Islands Swimming Federations will for the first time send female swimmers to the Pacific Games.

This was confirmed by the Swimming team Coach Seancute Sanga.

For the coming Games the SISF will send a total of eight swimming athletes.

Swimming Coach, Seancute Sanga said among the eight were three females.

Sanga said actually this is first time for the SISF to send local swimmers to take part in the Pacific Games.

Despite being the first time to take part in the Pacific’s biggest sporting event, the SISF is hopeful the local swimmers will put up a good challenge in the Games.

They have been in training for the past years hoping to be selected as one of the sports to be included in the participating sports for the Pacific Games, and finally they are in.

The swimmers are currently doing training at the Ranadi Marine School beach to shape their athletes in good shape before the Pacific Games.

By CARLOS ARUAFU//SOLOMON STAR

50C) Tripla Melanesian kantri i aut long OFC pilai

Updated 20 April 2015, 15:16 AEST
Sam Seke

Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands na Vanuatu i nau aut long OFC Champions League tonamen long Fiji.

Harry Atisson blong Vanuatu Foootball Federation i toktok wantem Sam Seke (Credit: ABC)

Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands na Vanuatu i nau aut long OFC Champions League tonamen long Fiji.

2010 OFC champion, Hekari United blong PNG ino bin nap long go hed long pilai bihain long em ino bin winim bikpela mak oa skoa agensim Tefana blong French Polynesia, na Amicale FC ibin lus agensim Auckland City long 3-nill long Sarere.

Tasol Harry Atisson blong Vanuatu Football Federation itok, hop blong Melanesia i nau stap long Gaitcha Club blong New Caledonia na Ba blong Fiji.

Em i tok tu olsem President blong Amicale, Andrew Leong ibin risain bihain long lus blong tim long OFC Champions League.

Harry i tok Amicale ibin gat hop na ol i sore long lus blong ol agensin ol defending champions, Auckland City.Radio Australia

50d) Fijiana in top eight

Rashneel Kumar
Monday, April 20, 2015

THE Telecom Fijiana side made it through to the Cup quarter-finals in the fourth leg of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Canada.

The Iliesa Tanivula-coached side is scheduled to play New Zealand in the quarter-final today.

In the other quarters, Australia will take on Russia, USA will play against France while host Canada takes on England.

Fijiana played series leaders New Zealand in the opening pool match and went down fighting 38-14.

The Ana Maria-skippered side put on a great performance against England and drew the match 19-all before beating Spain 20-5 to make the top eight.

Tanivula is eyeing a better performance in this leg to improve their standings in the series.

He said playing against New Zealand and England was a big motivation for the side.

Meanwhile, the increasing competition in the series had impressed World Rugby sevens general manager Avan Lee.

“It was great to be here to witness an excellent opening day of sevens rugby in Langford in front of a huge, passionate crowd. It was a great advertisement for the game,” Lee told World Rugby.

“All the top teams are on form, the hosts have performed very well and Sunday (Monday) is shaping up to be even better.

The quarter-finals promise some more thrilling matches as the road to Rio gets closer.”

Telecom Fijiana: Ella Marama, Ana Maria (C), Rusila Nagasau (VC), Litia Naiqato, Elina Ratauluva, Akosita Ravato, Timaima Ravisa, Asinate Savu, Priscilla Siata, Timaima Tamoi, Lavenia Tinai, Talica Vodo.FIJITIMES

50e) History may be repeating for NSW Waratahs

Aap
Monday, April 20, 2015

SYDNEY – NSW captain Dave Dennis admits it’s impossible to ignore the comparisons to last year after the Waratahs wrestled back control of their Super Rugby title defence with a spirited bonus-point win over the Hurricanes.

The thrilling 29-24 triumph over the ladder leaders in Wellington catapulted the Waratahs into seventh spot with a game in hand over most of their finals rivals, including staggering Australian conference leaders the Brumbies.

Equally important for the champions was the powerful and composed manner of the victory, which mirrored their round-12 comeback win over the Hurricanes in Sydney last season.

That 39-30 result, from 24-7 down at Allianz Stadium, stirred the Waratahs to life.

Michael Cheika’s men converted the momentum into a club-record nine straight wins and a maiden Super Rugby crown after 19 years of trying.

A jubilant Dennis is hoping the Waratahs can kick on in similar fashion in 2015.

“It’s a very big win for us,” the flanker told AAP.

“You don’t want to look back too much but there were obviously some of the same elements from our win over the Hurricanes last year.

“It was a day game, they led and played expansively but we really stuck to our game after a pretty tough and fiery start.

“There’s things we can improve on; we let in 24 points, our set piece is still a bit inconsistent, the lineout can get better.

“But this shows we still a lot of hunger and desire to improve.”

With their finals hopes on the line after a shock home loss to the Stormers, the Waratahs ran in four tries on Saturday, including a double to winger Peter Betham and career first in Super Rugby for giant lock Will Skelton, to spectacularly end the Hurricanes’ unbeaten seven-game start to the competition.

Skelton had a storming game, a rare 80-minute outing after Cheika cleared his bench, while Dennis and Wycliff Palu were inspirational as the Waratahs rediscovered the physical edge the coach had been looking for.

“We said to ourselves if we were going to be in this competition, we would do it our way,” said Waratahs assistant coach Daryl Gibson.

“That’s attack and really playing with physicality that’s part of our trademark and tonight was getting back to that. We were satisfied with delivering that.”

The victory – and Melbourne’s watershed win over the Brumbies in Canberra – has set up a huge Anzac Day derby between the Waratahs and Rebels at ANZ Stadium.

The Rebels have suddenly emerged as finals dark horses and another upset win next could lift them above the Waratahs in what has developed into a fascinating battle for conference honours – and guaranteed finals entry.

50f) Hekari out, goalie steals the show

Kameli Rakoko
Monday, April 20, 2015

IT is always a tough decision to let the star player of your team leave, even if it is for greener pastures.

Especially, when he has been instrumental in creating history to lead your team to win back a trophy that had been eluding you for 17 years.

Such talent is priceless. Many times sports officials will have to take a bold leap of faith to make that decision to let go.

But if their focus is on development and not be too selfish to worry about the usual demand of egocentric, glory seeking supporters then sports is on the way up.

This has been the case of former Nadi soccer captain, goalkeeper/striker Beniamino Mateinaqara.

Mateinaqara made his Oceania Champions League debut for his new club Hekari United in the past week and on Friday he rose to another level when he helped his nine-member team beat Tahiti’s Tefana 3-2 in the final pool match of the Fiji Airways sponsored competition.

He had previously played in the competition in 2013 but for his home team Nadi. Mateinaqara was the FFA soccer player of the year in 2013 and his coach Kamal Swamy was the coach of the year.

Swamy’s prediction last month became a reality last Friday.

When Mateinaqara was farewelled by Nadi last month he was reported to have said: “The OCL is a high level competition which will be good for Beniamino in his career.

“We have Vereti Dickson who has taken charge this season. Samu has also picked up a lot of knowledge from Beniamino so we should not have problems in the goalkeeping department.”

Mateinaqara was the outstanding player on a tough football afternoon which saw the referee red card two Hekari players at the ANZ Stadium, allowing Tefana to score two goals and leave the fate of the PNG club side in the hands of others.

When it came to be that close and highly competitive it all had to depend on the quality of your goalkeeper to keep things together.

Mateinaqara saved several would-be goals with his athleticism, good positional play to be at the right place at the right time, sheer courage in the face of balls sailing in like missiles and a big isu or coconut basket of luck and husks.

If the Tahitian coach felt that there was something supernatural at Hekari’s goalmouth then we could not have blamed him.

Every scoring effort made by his men was foiled by Mateinaqara until a penalty was given to them for a Pita Baleitoga foul inside the box. This also saw Baleitoga red carded.

In one exciting series of play he had dived and deflected the ball out of the goalmouth but still within the reach of the goal-hungry Tahitians crowding the penalty box and buzzing around like honey bees.

While he was still lying flat on his back on the ground a Tahitian blasted in a close ground ball shot which he blocked with his shoulders but it rebounded on to the feet of the excited Tefana strikers more eager than ever.

Seeing the goalkeeper on his back the Tefana strikers knew it was their golden opportunity and seized it. From point blank range another fired a sizzler and the Tahitian club bench were already on their feet to celebrate. But out of the blue Mateinaqara, still lying on the ground, stuck out his arm and stopped the goal.

He quickly got up, regained possession and booted it out of danger much to the cheers and appreciation of fans.

It will have to go down as one of the highlights of this Oceania soccer tournament.

Then in another instance the Tahitian strikers worked up another combination and unleashed a pile-driver from outside the box.

If Mateinaqara would have been a couple of feet off he would not have been able to dive and stop that rocket.

But to the disappointment of the Tahitians the Hekari goalie absorbed the powerful shot with his hands and mid-section, defusing and reducing it from being an Iranian warhead into a Diwali firecracker.

Prior to the start of the game, Hekari United, on six points in Group C was keeping fingers crossed for things to go in their favor. The race to the semi-final became complicated after the first matches.

Amicale and Auckland were on six points each, a draw would have meant both teams through to the semi-final. A convincing Auckland win would have sent Amicale out and Hekari in, a close margin loss, vice versa.

If Auckland would have lost, their six-goal difference would see them through as the best second qualifier.

But Hekari missed out on the semi-final spot but they can go back home confident that they played one of the best games of the tournament thanks to the brave goalkeeping display by Mateinaqara. It will be a beacon of light pointing to soccer fans that we have a star at the goalmouth in this year’s Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea.

However, Mateinaqara has over the years not been that successful at goal as he let in six goals by Amicale FC when he played for Nadi in 2013.

Mateinaqara helped Nadi win the Fiji Fact after 17 years in 2013.

He made the switch back to his home district Nadi after spending time at Navua.

When he was 15 someone told him to try playing at goal because of his height and he has been there ever since, sometimes he returns to playing striker.

He made his debut for Fiji against Kiribati at the South Pacific Games in Samoa in 2007. After the rousing performance in the Oceania tournament we can be confident that things look promising for our Fiji team to win gold in the Port Moresby Pacific Games in a couple of weeks if Mateinaqara is there.

Fijian names sometimes have a wide range of meaning if translated into English and it also depends from which part of the country you originate from.

But if we are to strip the translation into a single word, basing on his performance on the soccer goalmouth in the Oceania tourney, then Mateinaqara would mean do-or-die.

Go Fiji Go!

FIJITIMES

50g) O-League veteran says standard of football getting better

Updated at 10:59 am today

Auckland City captain Ivan Vicelich believes the standard of football in the Oceania Champions League is improving.

City beat Vanuatu’s Amicale FC 3-0 at the weekend to finish top of Group B and book a semi final match-up on against newcomers FC Gaitcha of New Caledonia.

New Zealand domestic rivals Team Wellington have also qualified for the semi finals at the first attempt, and will take on Fiji’s Ba.

Auckland have won the past four O-League titles and Ivan Vicelich believes the standard of their opponents is getting better.

“Samoan team last year they struggled with all respect to them but this year [the new team has] put in some very good performances. It’s a different team from Samoa but the country has put in some good performances and that’s great for the football, it means it’s growing. We’ve seen an influx of overseas players joining a lot of teams at the last minute, before the tournament started, so it’s definitely producing some pulling power around the world and it’s obviously going to pick up the standard of football in Oceania”.

The two semi finals will be held in Suva tomorrow with the final on Sunday.RNZI

www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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