Polynesia Group endorses joint projects for Forum Leaders conference

 

Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi talking to the media after last nights meeting.

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 05 SEPTEMBER 2017: A joint Polynesian undersea cable to improve internet connectivity is among several joint projects endorsed by the leaders of the Polynesian Group of countries that will be presented for the Forum Leaders endorsement tomorrow.

The group met for 5 hours last night and Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi spoke to the media and highlighted some of these issues.

Cable connectivity
One is the Tui Samoa Cable under construction that will connect Tahiti, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Fiji, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Futuna and the outside cable through the existing Southern Cross cable.

He also pointed out the Manatua Cable project which will connect the Polynesia islands of Tahiti, Niue, Samoa and the Cook Islands.

Tuilaepa said the cost of such service will be much cheaper when all these countries work together to utilize the service.

Joint Polynesia Airline
A regional joint Polynesia Airlines to cater for the Pacific islands.

Tuilaepa said Tahiti has done a study and survey on the matter, and the Polynesian leaders have asked Tahiti to present their findings to members of the Polynesia Group, before taking it up to the bigger conference.

Joint submission for funding
The group also discussed joint submissions for funds to donor partners.

Tuilaepa said the issue was pertaining climate change funding. He said it can be done if the countries work together.

Membership for Polynesia Group
Tuilaepa also explained that there is provision in Groups Charter that allows for any group who wish to become a member to join.

He pointed out the Lau group in Fiji, the Maoris in New Zealand and also Polynesians in Hawai’i as example of groups that can join the Polynesia group. But that is up to them to apply if they want to join.

The nine member group also endorsed establishing the Groups’ headquarters in Samoa.

“We will now start working on it,” said Tuilaepa

It has been six years since the Polynesia Group was established, and the members include, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tahiti, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Wallis & Futuna.

“Compared to the Melanesia and Micronesia Groups, the Polynesia Group is the biggest with nine members,” said Tuilaepa.

He was also asked about inviting American Samoa to become a member of the Forum. Tuilaepa said that can only be achieved, if American Samoa wants to be a member.

“Currently, American Samoa and Wallis & Futuna are Observer members to the Forum,” said Tuilaepa.

The Polynesia Group meeting was chaired by Tonga’s caretaker Prime Minister, Akilisi Pohiva.

“The issues discussed here will be a collective package from the Polynesian Group to the main meeting tomorrow,” said Tuilaepa.

The official opening for the 48th Pacific Island Leaders Forum will be held this evening at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum at Vailima.

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