Annual reviews of news from the previous year can be especially boring unless the focus is on unfamiliar events and fascinating places. In a Pacific Magazine story of January 2 reviewing the past year in French Polynesia, some interesting tidbits suggest the ways the Tahitians handle controversial situations.
We learn from the news story that the February 13 by-election, reported in this news column on February 17, was quickly confirmed for the challenger, Oscar Temaru. Temaru, who maintains a platform advocating eventual independence for French Polynesia, won by a narrow margin, just over 6,000 votes. His party captured enough seats in the assembly to take over the government on February 18.
Among his activities during the rest of 2005, Temaru attended independence anniversary celebrations around the Pacific where he spoke about his long-term goal for French Polynesia.
The article in Pacific Magazine lists, with only a sentence or two of detail, over 60 other events that occurred in French Polynesia in 2005. A dozen of the news notes will provide a good sample:
March 24: Members of an agency composed of people loyal to former president Gaston Flosse, called the GIP (Groupement d’intervention de Polynésie—the Polynesian Intervention Group), set up a road blockade to prevent motor vehicles from reaching the Port of Papeete. They were angered that the new Temaru government had fired the administrator appointed by the previous government.
March 27: The GIP activists ended the blockade when the Temaru government appointed another administrator.
March 30: The GIP renewed the blockade of the port to protest the new appointment.
April 3: The GIP ended the second blockade when the government decided to cancel the appointment of the March 27th administrator.
July 21: The 123rd annual Tahiti Festival concluded when the group Hei Tahiti won the best amateur dance competition and another group, O Tahiti E, won for the best professional dancing. Dance competitions are an important expression of traditional Tahitian culture and male/female relationships.
August 16: The GIP blockaded access to the Port of Papeete, once again to protest the nomination of another person to head the agency.
August 19: The government removed the blockade.
September 15: For the first time ever, a budget session of the French Polynesia Assembly was opened with a traditional kava-drinking ceremony, a Pacific symbol of peaceful reconciliation that was controversial because of the continuing political tensions in the islands.
December 2: Labor union leaders opposed to a government tax reform measure set up blockades to cut off access to downtown Papeete.
December 3: The government and the union settled their differences and the blockade was suspended.
December 12: Commercial fishermen established a blockade of the sea access to the port with their boats. The review in Pacific Magazine does not indicate what they were protesting.
December 21: The GIP set up its final road blockade of the year, protesting the rumor that a new head of the agency was being considered, though the blockade only lasted five hours. By the end of the year, a new leader for the agency had still not been appointed.