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December 4, 2013

New Zealand study finds correlation between church attendance and adolescent obesity

New Zealand study finds correlation between church attendance and adolescent obesity

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

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St Pauls of Devonport, a Methodist church in suburban Auckland

A study published this month in Journal of Primary Health Care by researchers at the School of Population Health, University of Auckland found a correlation between adolescent obesity amongst Pacific Islanders (PI) living in New Zealand and church attendance. The results were based on interviews with 2,495 Auckland teenagers attending six different secondary schools, questionnaires given to students, and anthropometric measurements such as body mass index.

While the percentage of non-churchgoing overweight — as opposed to normal or obese — adolescents was the same as churchgoing for Samoans and Cook Island Maori, 1% higher for “other PI” and 7% higher for Tongans, the rate of obese churchgoing adolescents was higher across all groups. Samoan churchgoing teens had an obese percentage of 38% compared to 35% for their non-churchgoing peers. For Cook Island Maori, it was 29% compared to 23%; for Tongans, 37% to 29%; for other PI, 31% to 29%.

The study sought to examine different factors between churchgoing and non-churchgoing populations, finding that Samoan and Tongan churchgoers were more likely than non-churchgoers to have watched four or more hours of television or DVDs on the previous Saturday night. On the last Sunday night, non-churchgoers were more likely to have watched four or more hours across all groups, but the total percentages for churchgoers increased compared to Saturday; particularly, while only 13% of Cook Island Maori and other PI watched four or more hours on Saturday, 30% watched four or more hours on Sunday.

Researchers also found that across all PI groups, non-churchgoing teens were more likely to have less than one serving of fruit a day and were a bit more likely to not eat lunch. With the exception of other PI, non-churchgoing teens were also more likely to rarely eat pies, fast food, and fried food compared to their churchgoing peers. Samoan churchgoers were also statistically more likely to consume soft drinks than their non-churchgoing peers.

The work by Ofa A. Dewes, Robert Scragg, and C. Raina Elley built on existing research regarding obesity in PI communities, and other global studies that have found higher rates of obesity in churchgoing populations. They claim their research in this area is important because as an ethnic group, PI had the highest rates of childhood and adult obesity.



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March 26, 2013

Kiribati acquires international funding for solar power

Kiribati acquires international funding for solar power

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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Solar panel installation in the United States
Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Last Tuesday, AusAID Australia and the World Bank’s Global Environment Fund (GEF) reached an agreement to give the government of Kiribati US$5 million (AU$4,779,000, NZ$5,985,000, 3,885,000) to install solar panels around the country capital, located on the Tarawa atoll. According to Business Desk of the Brunei Times, AusAID promised AU$3.2 million in funding, while GEF promised US$1 million. The country was the first in the Pacific to make a deal with the World Bank.

The funding was part of a US$530 million (NZ$635 million) package announced at yesterday’s Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland involving New Zealand and the European Union, Australia, the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the World Bank Group, and the United Arab Emirates. Also at the summit yesterday, New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully had announced a national commitment of USD$54,262,000 (AU$51,861,000 NZ$65 million, €42,178,000) to Pacific region energy solutions, of which US$8,348,000 (AU$8 million, NZ$10 million, €6,483,000) would be specifically earmarked for renewable energy and improved energy efficiency in the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu.

A small school maneaba (equivalent to a school hall) in Nabeina, North Tarawa, Kiribati
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Kiribati is heavily dependent on diesel fuel for most of the energy available on the national power grid, which supplies power to half Kiribati’s population of 110,000. In addition, a third of the country’s population lacks access to electricity. Once installation of the solar panels is complete, they are estimated to reduce diesel consumption by 230,000 liters (60,760 gallons) a year and give access to the electricity to some parts of the population that currently have no electricity. The European Union already has committed €100 million to sustainable energy in the region, with €10 million of that coming as a result of an announcement made last week.

In a press release about the news, Kiribati President Anote Tong was quoted as saying, “Kiribati faces big challenges it is remote, it is at risk from the effects of climate change, and it is vulnerable to economic shocks. […] Shifting Kiribati’s focus to reliable solar energy will provide a more secure, more sustainable power source for the country’s people.” Radio New Zealand International quoted Tong as saying, “It’s the first time we are doing this. We’re excited at the prospect of even substituting fossil fuel to a small extent at this stage. What the system being envisaged will only produce around 500 kilowatts, but this is the beginning of what I hope will be a pattern, the trend in the future.”

The European Union’s Fiji-based head of operations for the Pacific region, Renato Mele, supported alternative energy solutions like solar power for the region, but said that solar power had limitations because climate and environmental conditions sometimes meant batteries required to power the panels had a life of only 12 months, compared to other climates where batteries normally last five years. This created the potential to drive up standard operating costs. Mele has also noted these additional costs though are still lower than the cost of diesel power.

One News Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver noted, “Governments will be able to put the money they (currently) spend on diesel into things like education and health.”



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August 30, 2012

Wikinews interviews Oceania Paralympic Commitee President Paul Bird

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2012 Summer Paralympics

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Newest 2012 Paralympic stories

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Map of Oceania
Image: CIA World Factbook.

London, England— When Wikinews interviewed Oceania Paralympic Committee (OPC) President Paul Bird, the day before the start of this year’s Summer Paralympics, he shared the idea that whilst Oceania may not be the first place one thinks of in connection with “Paralympics” or even “developing countries”, Oceania is represented at the Games in London athletes who have overcome many obstacles in order to compete.

According to Bird, two athletes from Oceania are regarded as medal prospects. One, Fijian high-jumper Iliesa Delana, missed out in Beijing due to his event being cancelled. He is currently ranked number two in the world, having won silver at the World Championships. The other is Francis Kompaon, a sprinter from Rabaul in Papua-New Guinea competing in the 100 and 200 metre sprints. These athletes qualified under the standard Paralympic processes. Other Oceania athletes are “wildcards”, selected by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to broaden the number of nations taking part. Countries do not always get their preferred choices of wildcards; for a variety of reasons, the IPC may select a less-favoured athlete. In particular, women are more likely to be chosen to address the games’ gender imbalance.

It’s not easy being an athlete, or an official, from a developing country says Bird. Often people are confronted with a host of unfamiliar situations. For example: many of the required forms are now online; officials with little technology experience have to navigate an unfamiliar landscape of browsers, buttons and passwords.

The OPC consists of eight countries: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua-New Guinea. Papua-New Guinea and Samoa are sending two athletes each to the London Games. Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands are sending one each.

Bird says, in attempting to promote Paralympic sport in Oceania, the region’s Paralympic Committee puts a priority on training local officials, coaches and classifiers. This helps member countries conduct their own events, without assistance from Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, the Committee organizes the Arafura Games, a regional competition.

Countries in the region are encouraged by the OPC to assemble teams, get athletes into work rankings, and plan ahead for the 2016 Paralympics to be held in Rio. Efforts are being made to strengthened ties between the region and international bodies such as the International Tennis Federation.

Bird, as head of the OPC, has been a member of the Australian Paralympic Committee since 1993. He won gold and silver medals in swimming at the 1984 Paralympics where he was the Australian Team Captain. He was the Australian Chef de Mission in Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004, and the Assistant Chef de Mission in Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, and Beijing in 2008. He also currently sits on the Australian Paralympic Committee’s board.



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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Wikinews interviews Oceania Paralympic Committee President Paul Bird

Wikinews interviews Oceania Paralympic Committee President Paul Bird

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search
2012 Summer Paralympics

Trafalgar Square, London - London 2012 - countdown clock.jpg

Newest 2012 Paralympic stories

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Map of Oceania
Image: CIA World Factbook.

London, England — When Wikinews interviewed Oceania Paralympic Committee (OPC) President Paul Bird, the day before the start of this year’s Summer Paralympics, he shared the idea that whilst Oceania may not be the first place one thinks of in connection with “Paralympics” or even “developing countries”, Oceania is represented at the Games in London by athletes who have overcome many obstacles in order to compete.

According to Bird, two athletes from Oceania are regarded as medal prospects. One, Fijian high-jumper Iliesa Delana, missed out in Beijing due to his event being cancelled. He is currently ranked number two in the world, having won silver at the World Championships. The other is Francis Kompaon, a sprinter from Rabaul in Papua-New Guinea competing in the 100 and 200 metre sprints. These athletes qualified under the standard Paralympic processes. Other Oceania athletes are “wildcards”, selected by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to broaden the number of nations taking part. Countries do not always get their preferred choices of wildcards; for a variety of reasons, the IPC may select a less-favoured athlete. In particular, women are more likely to be chosen to address the games’ gender imbalance.

It’s not easy being an athlete, or an official, from a developing country says Bird. Often people are confronted with a host of unfamiliar situations. For example: many of the required forms are now online; officials with little technology experience have to navigate an unfamiliar landscape of browsers, buttons and passwords.

The OPC consists of eight countries: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and Papua-New Guinea. Papua-New Guinea and Samoa are sending two athletes each to the London Games. Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands are sending one each.

Bird says, in attempting to promote Paralympic sport in Oceania, the region’s Paralympic Committee puts a priority on training local officials, coaches and classifiers. This helps member countries conduct their own events, without assistance from Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, the Committee organizes the Arafura Games, a regional competition.

Countries in the region are encouraged by the OPC to assemble teams, get athletes into work rankings, and plan ahead for the 2016 Paralympics to be held in Rio. Efforts are being made to strengthened ties between the region and international bodies such as the International Tennis Federation.

Bird, as head of the OPC, has been a member of the Australian Paralympic Committee since 1993. He won gold and silver medals in swimming at the 1984 Paralympics where he was the Australian Team Captain. He was the Australian Chef de Mission in Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004, and the Assistant Chef de Mission in Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, and Beijing in 2008. He also currently sits on the Australian Paralympic Committee’s board.



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March 18, 2012

King George Tupou V of Tonga dies in Hong Kong hospital

King George Tupou V of Tonga dies in Hong Kong hospital

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

George Tupou V, the king of Tonga, has died after ten days in intensive care in a Hong Kong hospital. The 63-year-old brought democracy to his nation of 115,000 people.

The reformist swore into power in 2006 but his coronation was pushed back two years in the wake of Nuku’alofa rioting. Eight died in violence stirred up in response to perceived inadequacy in the pace of reforms.

The King opted to be driven around in a London taxi.

After another two years he made good on a promise to end feudal rule after 165 years, introducing a democratically elected parliament in 2010. Although the public chose nine representatives, he appointed the rest of the 33 that formed the parliament. He also picked the cabinet.

Thousands attended his 2008 coronation, including foreign leaders and hundreds of nobles. Outside his nation of islands, he was known as an eccentric who wore monocles and pith helmets, was chauffeured in a London black cab, and used model sailboats on his swimming pool.

King Tupou V has twice undergone surgery in the last year, once to remove a kidney and once to undergo a liver transplant. Unmarried, his younger brother Crown Prince Tupouto’a Lavaka is next in line to the throne. Crown Prince Lavaka was at the King’s bedside when he died.



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April 1, 2011

Tonga: Four guilty over ferry disaster that killed 74

Tonga: Four guilty over ferry disaster that killed 74

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Friday, April 1, 2011

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Tonga’s largest criminal trial today ended in the conviction of four men and the state shipping firm over the sinking of MV Princess Ashika. 74 were killed when the ferry went down off Nuku’alofa in 2009.

The vast majority of bodies remain missing. Only two were recovered, including one Tongan — a 21-year-old mother called Vae Fetu’u Taufa. The Shipping Corporation of Polynesia (SCP) manager John Jonesse, acting director of the national department for ports and marine affairs Viliami Tu’ipulotu, captain Viliami Makahokovalu Tuputupu, and first mate Semisi Pomale were all convicted of her manslaughter by negligence. The men were remanded into custody over the weekend to await sentencing; they face a maximum of ten years in jail.

Justice Shuster cited the severity of the offences in denying bail, which was requested by Laki Niu and Vuna Fa’otusia, attorneys representing the accused.

Built in the early 1970s, by 1985 the ferry was found to be unseaworthy and hence not suited for use in deep water. When SCP bought it in 2009 from Fiji, it suffered from “huge” rusting holes and on August 5 that year sank in deep water during a storm. Most passengers were sleeping below deck when the ship was lost near the island of Tongatapu, where it remains on the seabed. No women or children escaped.

The six-week trial followed a royal commission of inquiry that found Jonesse, from New Zealand, bought Princess Ashika “without any proper due diligence, surveys, inspections, valuations, documentation or proper inquiry having been completed.” It also concluded Tuputupu chose to sail that day despite the ship leaking on other journeys. The inquiry branded the loss “a result of systemic and individual failures… The tragedy is that they were all easily preventable and the deaths were completely senseless.”

SCP was convicted of charges concerning the vessel’s seaworthiness by the jury, which sat in Tonga’s parliament building after the trial’s high profile saw it moved away from Nuku’alofa Supreme Court.

Jonesse and Tuputupu have both been convicted of five counts of taking an unseaworthy ship to sea under the Shipping Act, for voyages held on July 3, July 9, July 15, July 23 and August 5. Jonesse is also guilty of forgery and knowingly using a forged document.



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April 4, 2010

Earthquakes hit Dominican Republic, Ryukyu Islands and Tonga

Earthquakes hit Dominican Republic, Ryukyu Islands and Tonga

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Dominican Republic earthquake location.
Image: USGS.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

USGS reported that an earthquake struck the Dominican Republic region with a magnitude of 8.0. It was registered on last Friday at 01:38:55 a.m. (05:38:55 UTC) at the epicenter, which was located 102 km from Higüey, La Altagracia, Dominican Republic. However, it was later reported as a magnitude 3.4 earthquake by the Puerto Rico Seismic Network. The report caught the attention of the news media until the USGS reported it was 3.2.

The depth of the aftershock was located 89.8 km (55.8 mi), and no damage or injuries were reported. It has been reported as a Haiti aftershock.

The Haiti earthquake reached magnitude 7.0 Mw, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, almost 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) west of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. More than 100 aftershocks have been registered since that earthquake. The United Nations reported that the earthquake has caused more than 225,000 deaths, a number which is expected to rise.

Another earthquake of magnitude 5.3 hit the Kermadec Islands region. The epicenter was located 1,138 kilometers from Nuku’alofa, Tonga and had a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). It took place at 13:35:34 (01:35:34 UTC) at the epicenter. No tsunami warnings have been issued by NOAA for this earthquake.

A Japan earthquake took place in the Ryukyu Islands at 11:19:58 at epicenter (02:19:58 UTC). It reached a magnitude of 5.1, had a depth of 35 kilometers and the epicenter was located 80 kilometers from Naha, Okinawa.



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October 2, 2009

New 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes South Pacific

Filed under: Archived,Disasters and accidents,Earthquakes,Oceania,Tonga — admin @ 5:00 am

New 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes South Pacific

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Friday, October 2, 2009

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A fresh, 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the South Pacific again on Friday. The tremors were felt in Tonga and Samoa, which are still reeling after a stronger earthquake and tsunami struck the area several days earlier.

According to the US Geological Survey, the tremors began underwater at 02.46 GMT on Friday, with the epicentre about 242 kilometres off of the Tongan island of Neiafu, at a depth of ten kilometres. The earthquake is among the dozens of aftershocks that occurred in the region since Tuesday’s big quake.

No damage and casualties from that earthquake have been reported, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami warning.

Experts did not think it likely that the earthquake would cause any tsunamis. “I don’t think there is a particular tsunami danger from that earthquake,” said seismologist Phil Cummins to the Agence France-Presse news agency.



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October 1, 2009

Death toll from tsunami in Southeast Asia increases

Death toll from tsunami in Southeast Asia increases

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

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A tsunami that was generated in the South Pacific by a powerful undersea earthquake has killed at least 110 people, according to authorities.

The epicentre of the earthquake

The majority of the fatalities occurred in Samoa, where rescue workers say at least 84 people were killed. Another 24 people are confirmed dead on American Samoa, while at least seven fatalities have been reported in nearby Tonga.

The US Geological Survey says an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck early Tuesday local time. It generated waves that devastated coastal areas, knocked down buildings and sent cars floating out to sea.

Strong aftershocks followed the initial earthquake, with at least one measuring a magnitude 5.6. Tsunami alerts were issued for the entire South Pacific region but were later canceled. Survivors fled to high ground and stayed there for hours.

Samoa

Several villages were destroyed on the southern Samoan coast of Upolu, which is also home to many tourist resorts.

During a flight on from Auckland, New Zealand to Apia, Samoa, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told reporters he was shocked by the disaster. “So much has gone. So many people are gone. I’m so shocked, so saddened by all the loss.”

“The situation is very bad,” said Marie-Francoise Borel, a spokesperson for the International Red Cross, to the CTV News Channel by telephone. “This massive wave has swept across – it’s destroyed villages, it’s destroyed homes, people are in shock.”

The assistant chief executive of Samoa’s disaster management predicted that the death toll in the country could surpass one hundred, saying that searches for bodies in the region are still ongoing.

“They are still continuing the searches for any missing bodies in the area. Some areas have been flattened and the tsunami had brought a lot of sand onshore, so there have been reports the sand has covered some of the bodies. So we need specialised machines to search for bodies that are buried under the sand,” he said.

The communications head for the International Federation of the Red Cross, Jason Smith, told the Al Jazeera news agency that the Red Cross “[…] is working hard through five evacuation centres to provide people with safe places to stay and access to clean water,” estimating that up to 15,000 people in sixty villages were affected by the tsunami.

American Samoa

At the capital of American Samoa, Pago Pago, the tsunami measured 1.57 meters in height. The superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa Mike Reynolds reported four waves as high as six meters. People who experienced the quake said it was long, lasting from 90 seconds to three minutes.

Cquote1.svg We’re focused on bringing in the assistance for people that have been injured, and for the immediate needs of the tens of thousands of survivors down there. Cquote2.svg

—Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator

Pago Pago city streets were strewn with overturned vehicles, cars, and debris. Some buildings located only slightly above sea level were completely destroyed by the waves, and power in some locations is not expected to be restored for up to a month. FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said that “we’re focused on bringing in the assistance for people that have been injured, and for the immediate needs of the tens of thousands of survivors down there.”

“The first federal team members are currently en route to American Samoa aboard a Coast Guard plane and will be providing on the ground assessments once they arrive on the island,” Fugate said. “FEMA, who has provisions pre-positioned in a distribution center in Hawaii, is also preparing to send supplies as needed to help meet the immediate needs of the survivors.”

Didi Afuafi, 28, who was riding on a bus in American Samoa when the tsunami struck, described her experiences. “I was scared. I was shocked. All the people on the bus were screaming, crying and trying to call their homes. We couldn’t get on cell phones. The phones just died on us. It was just crazy,” she said. “This is going to be talked about for generations.”

US President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in American Samoa, and has sent federal aid to support local recovery efforts in the US territory.

“My deepest sympathies are with the families who lost loved ones and many people who have been affected by the earthquake and the tsunami,” Obama said. He had earlier pledged in a written statement to give a “swift and aggressive” government response to the disaster.

“I am closely monitoring these tragic events, and have declared a major disaster for American Samoa, which will provide the tools necessary for a full, swift and aggressive response,” Obama said.

During a Wednesday appearance near Washington, D.C., the president said the US was ready to help its “friends” in neighboring Samoa and throughout the region.

Tonga

In Tonga, seven people were confirmed dead and another three missing, after waves struck Niuatoputapu, a northern island. Acting prime minister Lord Tuita said in a statement that “according to information gathered from Niuatoputapu so far, seven people are confirmed dead, three missing and four with very serious injuries,” Lord Tuita, the acting prime minister, said in a statement. “It is reported that the tsunami did serious damage to the village of Hihifo, which is like the capital of the island.

“The hospital on the island is reported to have suffered major damage; telephone communication has been cut as a result of damage to equipment and facilities on the island; homes and government buildings have been destroyed,” he said.

An airplane was reportedly chartered by Tongan authorities to determine the amount of damage done to Niuatoputapu, but wasn’t able to land.



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April 22, 2009

Tonga renews emergency regulations

Filed under: Archived,Oceania,Politics and conflicts,Tonga — admin @ 5:00 am

Tonga renews emergency regulations – Wikinews, the free news source

Tonga renews emergency regulations

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

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The Tongan government has extended the state of emergency in the capital, Nukuʻalofa, for another month.

The move has been criticised as unnecessary by the chairman of the Tonga Civil Society Forum, Drew Havea. He says that life is now back to normal in the capital, and blames a group of Nukuʻalofa businessmen for the rollover.

“We are not sure why they are taking that particular action because we don’t see any issue but that’s their right. If they want to petition for rolling over these emergency regulations, there’s not much we can do, on our part,” he said.

The emergency regulations were originally put in place two and a half years ago, as a response to the 2006 Nuku’alofa riots, and have been renewed monthly ever since. They give police wide powers to search, detain and arrest people without warrant within Nukuʻalofa’s CBD in order to protect public safety.

Central Nukuʻalofa was severely damaged by pro-democracy riots on November 17, 2006.



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