French Pacific news in brief for 29 June 2024

‘Aroha mai i Fenua’, Google

French Polynesia’s Reo Tahiti is one of the many Pacific languages now supported by Google Translate, the company announced.

The addition comes as part of a major global package that involves some 110 languages globally.

This includes a list of Pacific languages such as French Polynesia’s Reo Maohi (Tahitian), Chamorro spoken in Guam and the Mariana Islands of Rota, Tinian, and Saipan, Marshallese in Marshall Islands, Fijian, Tongan and Tok Pisin (which is commonly used in Papua New Guinea, but also in a slightly different form in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The upgrade is said to rely on Google’s Artificial Intelligence tool PaLM 2 Google Translate Senior Software Engineer, Isaac Caswell said.

It is said to cover an estimated population of half a billion persons speaking the newly introduced languages.

Until now, Google Translate covered a list of the 133 most widely spoken languages.

The company plans to eventually carry a global list of one thousand supported languages.

Olympics 2024: French “dream team” of surfers announced for Teahupoo

(Left to right) Jérémy Florès, Joan Duru, Jacques Lajuncomme, Kauli Vaast and Vahine Fierro at a press conference in Paris on Monday 24 June 2024

France has this week presented its “dream team” to the media for the upcoming surfing event that will take place in Tahiti as part of the Olympics Paris 2024.

The team, which will compete on Tahiti’s iconic site of Teahupoo (west coast of Tahiti), consists of 22-year-old Vahine Fierro (born in French Polynesia, who made history in May 2024 in finishing first at the World Surfing League’s Tahiti Pro) and Johanne Defay.

Taking part in the men’s competition will be 22-year-old Kauli Vaast (also Tahiti-born) and 35-year-old Joan Duru.

Both Vaast and Fierro are widely regarded as favourites for the competition, which will take place on Teahupoo from 27 July until 5 August 2024.

Vaast grew up in Vairao, near the iconic surfing site, and started surfing there when he was just eight years old.

Fierro, now dubbed “The Queen of Teahupoo”, started surfing there when she was 15.

The introduction, which did not come as a surprise, was made at a press conference on Monday at the French National Olympic Committee headquarters in Paris by French Surfing Federation President Jacques Lajuncomme.

“This is the most beautiful team we could ever have dreamt of,” field manager Jérémy Florès said on Monday.

Tahiti prison will have to provide hot water, court orders

Nuutania jail, French Polynesia

Tahiti’s main prison of Nuutania will have to install hot water for all inmates within the next two years, an administrative court in Papeete ordered this week.

The complaint came from French Polynesia’s Bar Association who had initially asked the court to rule that the penitentiary should simply be closed.

While rejecting the request to close it down, the judge agreed that the lack of hot water in the prisoners’ showers was a matter of concern and should therefore be remedied.

The jail has often been at the centre of strong criticism regarding its living conditions, including overpopulation and a derelict state.

French Polynesian selected to restore historic Air Force One in Seattle

The Museum of Flight's restoration centre and reserve collection in Seattle

A French Polynesian specialist has been selected for the first time to join a team of volunteer “detailers” to restore vintage aircraft including a disused Air Force One Presidential plane.

Self-taught 38-year-old Taianui Goubrey, whose business is “detailing” (renovating) old cars and boats, told Tahiti Nui Television one of his assignments will be to work on the first presidential jet, initially known as SAM (Special Air Mission) 970.

It once transported Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

Goubrey, while at the Museum of Flight’s Restoration Center and Reserve Collection in Seattle (USA), will also be assigned on other vessels, including a Concorde G-BOARG Alpha Golf, the first editions of the Boeing 727 and the Boeing 747, a Lockheed 1049G Super Constellation Connie and a B-29 Superfortress T Square 54.

The Museum of Flight’s Restoration Centre and Reserve Collection is a 23,000-square-foot site where volunteers restore aircraft to exhibition quality.

Unrest in New Caledonia on the agenda for NZ regional tour

Winston Peters

Current unrest in New Caledonia will be on the agenda of a NZ-led high-level political delegation to tour the Pacific next week, New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said on Thursday.

Peters will be leading “a high-level political delegation to Solomon Islands, Nauru and Niue” from 1 to 6 July.

The Deputy Prime Minister added in a statement that “major regional issues (will) be on the agenda, including the events in New Caledonia”.

New Caledonia has been facing grave and destructive politically related unrest since riots and violence broke out mid-May, causing widespread destruction, arson, looting and roadblocks for estimated damages of about 1.5 million Euros and causing the death of nine persons.

This also caused an earlier planned visit by Peters to New Caledonia, as part of another regional tour, in May, to be postponed sine die. Peters has since consistently expressed “strong concern” and called for “cool heads, wisdom (…) peace, calm and open dialogue on all sides” regarding the situation in the French Pacific archipelago.

Over 3,500 French security forces are deployed there and are still trying to restore law and order and quell the quasi-insurrectional situation.

“We look forward to engaging with the political leaderships in Solomon Islands, Nauru, and Niue next week, in the context of urgent development and strategic challenges in the region.

Mr Peters will be accompanied by Minister of Police and for Emergency Management and Recovery Mark Mitchell; Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee (FADTC) Tim van de Molen; FADTC members Damien O’Connor and Teanau Tuiono; and Chair of the Labour Pacific Caucus, Jenny Salesa.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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