COMMENT: By Ena Manuireva and Tony Fala in Auckland
Tomorrow – November 25 – is D-Day for Tahitian pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru’s trial in New Caledonia and advocates and activists across the Pacific are rallying in his support against the “colonial actions” taken by the French administration.
Temaru requested this postponed date to enable him to prepare his defence against this press freedom case that involves:
- A judgment for the closure and a fine of NZ$1.25 million against the pro-independent Radio Tefana, the “voice for accountability” by the local and French governments;
- Seizure of nearly NZ$150,000 from Temaru’s personal account while the trial was still pending, “trampling on the presumption of innocence”;
- Location of the trial in New Caledonia during covid-19 lockdown where Temaru will not be able to travel to, restricting freedom of movement;
- A heavy financial strain on Temaru in preparing his defence team from Tahiti and being forced to campaign for public financial help.
Facing up to injustice
Solidarity must stand in the face of injustice. From the annexation of Mā’ohi Nui in 1843 to the 30-year period of nuclear testing in the Pacific, followed by the mismanagement of covid-19, the Mā’ohi Nui people continue to endure French colonialism and imperialism.
Temaru’s struggle is the Mā’ohi Nui people’s struggle for freedom.
A solidarity campaign is being launched which includes:
- Organisers speaking on the issues of nuclear testing and climate change in Mā’ohi Nui and activist communities in Auckland in 2021;
- Plans for a Mā’ohi Nui education day at Auckland University of Technology’s marae in Auckland in early 2021 in close consultation with Oscar Temaru; and
- Temaru being invited to speak via Zoom from his base in Pape’ete and he will engage in a short talanoa with activists and students.
Invited to the gathering
Members of the Tahitian and Kanak communities living in Auckland will be invited to the gathering.
Invitations will be sent to academics, activists, journalists, Pacific community members, and students to debate the following topics:
• The Mā’ohi Nui road to independence as a key theme in the education day;
• The continuing legacy of nuclear testing upon the health of the Ma’ohi Nui people today;
• Climate Change in Mā’ohi Nui; and
• The indigenous response to covid 19 in Ma’ohi Nui today.
The organisers hope that a Mā’ohi Nui solidarity network in support of Temaru and the people in the five archipelagos of French Polynesia will emerge organically out of the education day.
This contemporary organising work proceeds is based on the understanding that other Moana communities have acted in solidarity with Oscar Temaru and his people since the 1970s.
Tangata whenua activists in Aotearoa established bonds of whakawhanaungatanga (making connections) with Oscar Temaru and the Mā’ohi Nui people since the 1970s.
So did Pacific peoples in the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) movement who forged strong bonds of friendship and solidarity with Temaru and the Mā’ohi Nui people.
The late Jean-Marie Tjibaou of the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) in New Caledonia worked closely with Temaru and the Ma’ohi Nui people in the struggle for independence.
The modest solidarity work evolving in Auckland today follows in the wake of earlier generations of Pakeha and Moana activists who fought for the health, wellbeing, and independence of the Mā’ohi Nui people and their long-serving fighter Oscar Temaru.
The co-authors, Ena Manuireva and Tony Fala, are doctoral candidates and researchers at Auckland University of Technology and are organisers of the solidarity groups. They can be contacted here for more information.