Thursday, August 30

Pacific leaders arrive for Forum opening

Rarotonga has been buzzing for the last week or so with the leaders from the fifteen members of the Pacific Forum gathering in the Cook Islands for the 43rd Pacific Forum.
As well as the leaders we have observers and associates, a number of wannabees and representatives from an alphabet of regional organisations.
Needless to say all of these have support staff and on top of that there are seventy or eighty media people.
We’ve got John Key and for a while we had Julia Gillard but she chose  to fly home after the unfortunate death of five Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
You can read about the various meetings in Cook Islands News (or on the websites of many other Pacific news organisations.
The Forum proper opened on Tuesday evening and this video shows the arrival of some of the Pacific leaders at the national auditorium for the opening ceremony. This involved leaders being carried on a pa’ata by stalwart Cook Islands warriors (some of whom are a tad overweight). They are cheered on by school children and mamas – each country was ’adopted’ by a local Rarotonga school with the kids meeting delegations at the airport as well as supporting them at the opening.
The arrivals were supposed to begin at 5pm but actually got underway a quarter of an hour early. Whatever happened to island time? This accounts for the Cook Islands, FSM, Kiribati, Nauru and New Zealand not being in the video. So, no John Key, but Julia Gillard was there. She was the last to arrive on the island and was tacked on to the end of the parade. You can see the media frenzy as she was being carried in.
Mind you, Hillary Clinton has just touched down on Rarotonga and that prompted a population frenzy! I’ve never seen so many cars at the sea wall (to watch the plane come in) and people at the airport waving American flags (and cameras).
We’re all suckers for celebrities!