Main image: CHRIStophe Robert HERVOU√čT (Flickr)
Main image: CHRIStophe Robert HERVOU√čT (Flickr)

Six QUT journalism students embarked on a 17 day trip through New Caledonia, Vanuatu and New Zealand this June to discover more about the South Pacific.

They encountered a rich diversity of Pacific cultures as well as some familiar Aussie accents from people who have made the region’s islands their home.

But there may be changes taking place in paradise too with a referendum looming for one Pacific nation.

The QUT News team including senior lecturer Lee Duffield (centre).
The QUT News South Pacific team: Jaleesa Simpson, Emma Clarke, Harriet Harvey, Dr Lee Duffield, Nick Kelly, Danielle Veivers and Jane Mahoney.

Referendum for New Caledonia

Currently elections throughout the area are changing the face of the Pacific as we know it.

New Caledonia is currently in the midst of a referendum which must be conducted by 2018. This referendum could potentially impact the economies and lifestyles of not only New Caledonians but all Pacific Islands within the Melanesian Spearhead Group, commonly known as the MSG.

MSG is an overarching group for Melanesian island countries in the South Pacific. The MSG started as an idea through an informal meeting held on the 17th of July 1986 between the heads of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and the FLNKS – an independent party in New Caledonia.

Collectively they decided that it was important to have solidarity and spearheading for common issues in the Pacific.

Danielle Veivers spoke with Jimmy Naouma, an FLNKS representative and Rose Wete Corporate Development Officer at the MSG.

Who gets the nickel?

In a time where decolonisation is still undecided, all parties in New Caledonia agree on one thing; the dramatic importance of the nickel mining industry.
It is a major factor in why the country is divided on independence.

The French don’t want to lose the successful industry and the MSG want to gain it in order to provide huge economic benefits to the Pacific.

Two new mines have begun operations in the north and south of the main island and the anticipated billions of dollars in returns will change the country in many ways.

Emma Clarke talks about the money and the politics.

Can culture be power?

For the Kanak movement, rebuilding culture is a main plank in gaining independence for New Caledonia.

Emma Clarke reports from New Caledonia.

Press freedom is vital in Vanuatu

For many countries in the Pacific, elections are not a concern. Instead the issues of freedom of the press and political integrity are hampering countries, such as Vanuatu, in their efforts to find a solution to their developing political scene.

Nick Kelly spoke to Royson Willie in his office at the Daily Mail in Vanuatu.

The Vanuatu Cultural Centre resides in the sleepy back streets of the island’s capital, Port Vila. But this collection of Vanuatu’s culture and history is anything but under whelming.

Jaleesa Simpson reports on the Vanuatu Cultural Centre.

An Australian’s images of the Pacific

Ben Bohane is an Australian photojournalist, author and TV producer who has covered Asia and the Pacific islands for the past 25 years. He is also the founder and present Director of Wakaphotos, the first photo agency of its kind in the Pacific.

For him the Pacific is home now, where he is the Communications Manager for the non-government development agency, the Pacific Institute of Public Policy (PIPP).

With the PIPP he works on issues surrounding the offshore processing of local products, refugees, gender equality, women’s representation in Parliament, climate change, agriculture and creating business.

He believes his photography and work with the PIPP has the ability to make conversations, change conversations and draw attention to important global issues.

Harriet Harvey spoke to Ben at his office in Port Vila about his career and his passion for photography and journalism.

Bean time for Australian in Vanuatu

Terry Adlington is another Australian living and working in Vanuatu. He’s the owner of Vanuatu’s Tanna Coffee and when you meet him you cannot help but think he is living the good life.

Coffee has been grown on Tanna Island since 1860, but it wasn’t until 1998 when he came to the company that it began to take off.

Harriet Harvey caught up with Mr Adlington at his roasting house just outside of Port Vila, very relaxed on the deck of the promotional coffee shop; surrounded by family and friends and three of his dogs – he was a man who couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.

VIDEO: Nick Kelly put together a video report of the South Pacific field trip.