FestPac 13 is underway

In Hawai’i the 13th edition of the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture is underway. It is proving a draw card for delegates and visitors from far and wide. It was announced at the last minute that the expected delegations from Vanuatu and New Caledonia would be unable to take part. However, Vanuatu’s Minister for Climate Change, Ralph Regenvanu, is attending.

The New Caledonia stand has not been left empty with other delegates gathering there to show solidarity with the kanaky people and to advocate for sovereignty and self-determination across the region. This support was also reflected in speeches at the opening ceremony.

Whilst FestPac is very much a celebration of art, culture, and creativity it also provides an important platform for Pacific peoples to come together and share knowledge around key issues affecting their communities including the impacts of climate change, land rights, and resource sovereignty.

New Prime Minister settles into job in Solomon Islands

Jeremiah Manele is into his second month as Prime Minister in Solomon Islands. As promised, he is clearly focusing on domestic issues and has yet to undertake any overseas travel. However, that is not to say foreign policy issues have been off the menu. Manele has hosted several high-level bilateral visits from China, New Zealand, and Australia. Most recently he met with Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong. He also met with Baron Waqa who made Solomon Islands the destination of his first mission since taking up the role of Secretary-General to the Pacific Islands Forum.

Meanwhile, it has come to light that more than half of the national MPs in Solomon Islands are the subject of electoral challenges in the courts. They include former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, current Deputy Prime Minister, Bradley Tovosia, and former PM, Rick Hou.

Other Pacific News

In Fiji, the main opposition party, Fiji First, appears to be in disarray. This comes further to many resignations from the party. Those quitting include former Prime Minister JV Bainimarama and former Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

In Vanuatu, the announcement of the results of the referendum that was held recently has been delayed. The Electoral Commission announced on Monday that there were ‘mismatches’ and that further verification was required before announcing the results.

In Papua New Guinea, Parliament has risen until September after the Opposition once again failed to get a motion of no confidence accepted for debate. Amid rowdy scenes, the Speaker referred the motion to the Supreme Court for a judicial determination as to its validity.

Kava growing countries from across the Pacific islands region have agreed on an implementation plan for the regional kava strategy. The plan aims to protect the cultural heritage associated with kava whilst supporting economic opportunity for producers.

A large delegation of officials from Bougainville have travelled to Solomon Islands. The Bougainville Constitutional Planning Commission is undertaking a round of international consultations on the draft Constitution.


Dr Tess Newton Cain is a Senior Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead for the Griffith Pacific Hub.