Pacific Media Watch

26 September 2018

REGION: USTKE fights for Kanak poll rights and other Pacific issues

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A workers rally in Noumea organised by USTKE. Image: PMC file

AUCKLAND (Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Centre/Pacific Media Watch): As New Caledonia’s November 4 referendum on independence approaches, both pro and anti-independence groups are ramping up their campaigns. But, as Michael Andrew reports, some groups are choosing not to participate, arguing that the referendum is “unfair and dishonest”.

Andrew is one of the AUT’s Pacific Media Centre postgraduate student journalists reporting this semester for Asia Pacific Report. He writes:

For many Kanaks, the upcoming independence referendum is a chance to reclaim control of New Caledonia, or “Kanaky”, and establish a new independent nation in the Pacific.

For pro-independence labour organisation USTKE (Union of Kanak and Exploited Workers), however, the November 4 referendum is undemocratic and should be treated as a non-event.

On a visit to New Zealand this week, Leonard Wahmetu, general secretary of the mines and metals section of the USTKE, said his organisation and its political arm, the Labour Party, would not be participating in the referendum as it had been tailored to favour an outcome of remaining with France.


Referring to the period preceding the 1988 Matignon accord – the first step in France’s promise of eventual sovereignty for the Kanaks – Wahmetu said that the demographics of Kanaky were significantly altered when the French government encouraged mass migration from mainland France, eroding the Kanak’s voting majority in subsequent referenda.

Read the full story:

Other Asia Pacific Journalism Studies reports by postgraduate student journalists:

Refugees, journalist detention in Nauru ‘overshadow Pacific issues’ – by Maxine Jacobs

Nepal’s new legal codes spark medical, media protests and divide nation – by Rahul Bhattarai

Boe climate and security pact big step forward, but lacks gender drive – by Jessica Marshall

Japanese development aid funding splits Pacific unity on key WHO post – by Sri Krishnamurthi

Vanuatu steps up UN bid for West Papua rights, new referendum – by James Halpin

Compulsory Te Reo debate fails to address key problems, say critics – by Mike Mohr

Pacific Media Centre and Asia Pacific Report publish with a Creative Commons licence so we welcome republication as long as the author and Pacific Media Centre source are fully acknowledged.

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