According to TV1 News, yesterday’s funeral of Maori Queen Dame Te Atarangikaahu was a attended by an important mourner.
Radical Youth leader, Omar Hamed, writing in Just Focus reveals
how Temaru upset the French government at the recent Youth Festival in Tahiti.
Looking back on it now it seems bizarre, how Charmaine Clark, (Ngati Kahungunu), a researcher from the Tairawhiti Polytechnic in Gisborne and I got caught up in the middle of the struggle for self-determination in Tahiti.
It began on Monday morning at the opening ceremony when Oscar Temaru, leader of Tahiti’s biggest independence political party and French Polynesia’s coalition government, asked the festival “to consider the issue of independence and more specifically ‘the freedom of the Maohi [Tahitian] people’”.
He also said to the Festival in English, “Do you know that in our local Assembly it is prohibited to speak our language, the language of our land? Here [at the festival] we will speak our mother tongue. This is only one example of the colonial system that still exists in our land. We want to get rid of colonialism, racism and all these wrongs that exist everywhere in the world.” At that point, the French High Commissioner Office’s secretary-general walked out of the festival. The first shot of a new battle in an old war had been fired.
The latest issue of Australian Marxist-Leninist paper, Green Left Weekly also carries a long article on Temaru’s fight with the French Government.
Since Oscar Temaru was elected president of Tahiti Nui (French Polynesia) in June 2004, he has infuriated the Pacific country’s colonial masters in Paris. The furore over Temaru’s July 28 leaking of a letter confirming that the French government has systematically covered up the link between its atmospheric nuclear tests in the Pacific and Tahiti’s high cancer rates is just the latest confrontation. It is Temaru’s unstinting support for Tahiti’s eventual independence that has Paris searching for ways to defeat him.
The French government has refused to accept Temaru’s shock 2004 victory over the unquestioningly pro-French Gaston Flosse, which abruptly ended his 20-year reign. However, Temaru’s new Union for Democracy (UPLD) coalition government, which included several parties that support autonomy” rather than full independence, did not call for a break with Paris. Rather, it called for taui (change).
However, while his coalition government took a cautious approach on the question of Tahiti’s ties to Paris, Temaru personally continued his campaign for eventual independence. In his capacity as leader of the pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira (Polynesian Liberation Front), rather than as French Polynesia’s president, in August 2004 Temaru demanded that Tahiti be reinscribed on the United Nation’s list of non-self-governing territories. Temaru also proposed that, following a period of autonomy, Tahiti’s people be allowed to vote in a referendum on independence — a process similar to that taking place in Kanaky (New Caledonia).
Temaru has been a stalwart of the Pacific “peace” and anti nuclear movements for decades. He has worked with several NZ “peace” and Maori activists and has many connections in this country.
One of Temaru’s early political influences was the late New Caledonian Marxist, Jean-Marie Tjibaou, one time leader of the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front. Temaru attended secondary school with Tjibaou in New Caledonia.
Temaru’s UPLD is heavily supported by the French Socialist Party, with which it has an agreement of co-operation. However Temaru has friends in all sections of the French left. According to Green Left Weekly, in February 2005, all French left-wing parties, including the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, the Greens and the revolutionary Marxist Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) and Workers Struggle (LO) issued a joint statement in support of Temaru and the UPLD.