Kaniva mediawatch July 31, 2020


An American yacht, the Sailing Zatara, which arrived unannounced at the  Minerva Reef earlier this month, is now in Fiji.

The Zatara, carrying a family of six, had been denied entry in March, but still sailed for Tonga.

Meanwhile, the Tahitian-based yacht Nadine as due to leave Vava’u harbour today after entering the port due to an emergency.

The yacht’s owners said they had encountered problems during a storm while sailing from Tahiti to Fiji.

They were told they could stay until today and earlier reports indicated they could be escorted out of Tongan waters by a navy patrol boat.

Fiji has opened its maritime borders to yachts which qualify for a visa.

Tongans in US census

The National Tongan American Society urged Tongans in the US to take part in this week’s United States census and  make sure their data was recorded.

It said an accurate count could help fund transport, education, child care and housing.

Tevita Kaili, a Tongan academic lecturing in cultural anthropology at Brigham Young University in Hawai’i, said the census was important  because it meant an accurate count of how many Tongans were in the US.

According to the 2010 census there are about 57,000 people of Tongan descent living in the United States and its territories.

They are the fourth largest group of Island descent in the US and live mainly in California, Hawai’i, Utah, Texas, Alaska and Nevada, as well as American Samoa.

Economy shrinks 

Tonga’s economy is expected to shrink by 3% in the current financial year and another 4% in the next financial year, according to the latest report from the Asian Development Bank.

The July edition of the ADB’s Pacific Economic Monitor said the Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted the  beginning of a recovery in tourism numbers following Cyclone Gita.

It said Covid-19 was the biggest economic challenge to Tonga in living memory and there was little the government could do to directly address the effects of the global economic slowdown.

Overall Pacific island economies were expected to contract by 4.3%, mostly due to travel restrictions severely restricting tourism flows.

Youth ‘traumatised’ 

Young Pasifika people are often traumatised by the their parents  clinging to their old culture and rejecting western ideas, according to the leader of a new youth help programme in Sydney.

“The parents hold on to all the old culture at all costs, pushing out the western ideas. And that’s actually, to some extent, traumatizing the young individuals because they’re more alone than ever before,” Uniting Church minister Rev. Mel Pouvalu said.

She said this was contributing to the numbers of  young people from Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and other Pacific nations getting into trouble and not knowing where to get help when they did.

Rev. Pouvalu is supervising a new programme, The Restore Project, aimed at helping young people who are at risk.

Rev. Pouvalu said the problem would only get worse without Pacific people providing support.

Young people of Pacific descent, including Tongans and Samoans are statistically over-represented in crime and other problems and often end up in jail or on the streets.

Climate crisis 

The climate crisis facing Pacific island nations such as Tonga has not stopped because of Covid-19, an environmental leader has warned.

Genevieve Jiva from the Pacific Climate Action Network said the climate crisis remained the single greatest threat to the Pacific.

Tonga has experienced  more severe cyclones, continuing coastal erosion, sea level rises and the contamination of fresh water sources by sea water as a result of global warming.

This year’s Pacific Forum meeting has been  postponed and countries and environmentalists fear that with governments focused on the coronavirus pandemic momentum could be lost.

Climate advocates have called on Pacific leaders to continue action on climate change and keep the pressure on Australia to reduce its carbon emissions.

Ms Jiva said civil society groups would continue to lobby and carry out their climate advocacy work in the background.


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