Pacific News Agency Service –administered by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)
|First Edition||Thursday 17 June 2021||© Copyright PINA 2021|
In the bulletin:
- FIJI — Investment act 2020 to help Fiji’s economic recovery post-pandemic
- FIJI — ‘Don’t not let the number surpass capacity’, Fiji follows WHO criteria in determining COVID-19 deaths
- PACNEWS BIZ — Vanuatu keeps up with the World of E-Commerce and Digital Trade
- PACNEWS IN FOCUS — Violence against women in Pacific politics
- PACNEWS DIGEST — The mice that roared: how eight tiny countries took on foreign fishing fleets
- PACNEWS SPORT — Māori All Blacks squad for series against Manu Samoa named
- PACNEWS SPORT — Samoan weightlifter Iuniarra Sipaia through to Olympics
The approvals process for foreign and domestic investment proposals is set to become more business-friendly following reforms spearheaded by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport (MCTTT) to streamline Fiji’s investment regulatory framework.
Fiji’s Investment Act 2020 will increase the country’s ability to attract foreign and domestic investment across key sectors, with the aim of generating foreign exchange, knowledge and technology-intensive jobs and helping with the long term recovery of the Fijian economy, in the wake of COVID-19 impacts.
Passed by the Fijian Parliament on 03 June, the new law, which replaces the Foreign Investment Act of 1999, also protects domestic interests with provisions on reserved and restricted activities where domestic businesses are considered vulnerable.
“The law was drafted following extensive consultations by MCTTT with key stakeholders and the same was done by the Fijian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights across Fiji,” MCTTT Permanent Secretary, Shaheen Ali said. “Not only does the law include international best practices, it protects the interests of Fijians. For investors, it eases their way in doing business in Fiji as the new law is streamlined and user-friendly.”
The reform aligns with a priority of Fiji’s 5-Year and 20-Year National Development Plan to modernize the business regulatory environment for inclusive and sustainable private sector development.
With the support of the governments of Australia and New Zealand through the Fiji Partnership, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, provided technical expertise to the MCTTT in drafting the legislation.
“The new Investment Act is a great step towards improving the ease of doing business in Fiji” said John Feakes, Australian High Commissioner to Fiji. “I congratulate the Fijian Government for working to boost investment in Fiji, and its long-term economic future.”
The new law removes the previous process of applying for a Foreign Investor Registration Certificate. Under the reform, investor permits are to be managed by the Department of Immigration. Furthermore, investor rights will also be protected under the new law with provisions for legal recourse.
“This new legislation demonstrates the Government of Fiji’s commitment to improving the business enabling environment and attracting productive foreign direct investment,” said Jonathan Curr, New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji. “The Act should improve the assessment of investment proposals while having regard for national interests.”
The law also has provisions on national security allowing the Fijian Government to restrict investment on critical infrastructure such as energy, transport, communications, data storage or financial infrastructure or access to sensitive information or the ability to control sensitive information.
Under the same conditions as domestic investors, foreign investments will report through the Registrar of Companies at the time of business registration and annually report to Investment Fiji.
“Fiji has taken a leap forward in preparing itself and setting a good platform for economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19, which have decimated its economy,” IFC Resident Representative to Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu, Deva De Silva said.
“IFC’s experience worldwide has shown us that developing the private sector is critical to any economy as it provides 90 per cent of jobs in the developing world. That is why we are interested to help Fiji develop its private sector and help create jobs especially post-pandemic.”
IFC is also assisting MCTTT in the drafting of the regulations of the Act, as well as, in strengthening the capacity of Investment Fiji which will be the implementing agency.
SOURCE: WORLD BANK/PACNEWS
Fiji’s Health Ministry chief medical adviser Dr Jemesa Tudravu is urging Fijians to not allow the number of COVID-19 cases to surpass the capacity of health services to cater for sick people.
He said if this eventuated, it could make work even tougher.
Dr Tudravu said the ability to achieve this was to follow COVID-19 safe measures.
“Stay at home, only three reasons to move – food, access health service and essential work.”
He also highlighted that with the public health team facilitating the internal repatriation from the green to red zone over the past seven days, teams were also preparing for red to green repatration into Vanua Levu.
Dr Tudravu said Lautoka Hospital was now fully operational providing COVID and non-COVID admission services for the Western Division and supporting FEMAT field hospital for ICU care of children and babies.
He said the CWM Hospital was receiving all COVID-19 referrals from FEMAT and division, admission, ICU care, maternity and paediatric care.
Meanwhile, Health Ministry head of health protection Dr Aalisha Sahukhan says Fiji follows World Health Organisation criteria in determining whether or not a death is attributed to COVID-19.
Speaking at the Explain the Science 2 panel discussion on COVID-19 vaccines hosted by the Fiji National University, she said clinicians investigated symptoms and other details before attributing a death to COVID-19.
“So far from this outbreak we have recorded two deaths that we have attributed to COVID-19 and there were two deaths previously last year that were not part of this outbreak,” she said.
“But we have also had six deaths for people who tested positive for COVID-19 but they had pre-existing conditions they were already in hospital for that, they were suffering from very severe illnesses that in the end the doctors said that they died from these illnesses and not from COVID-19.”
She said the outbreak of the virus at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital began in an area with very sick patients.
“Unfortunately, the first ward that was hit was the acute medical ward so these were where the sickest people were managed, so they were already very sick, they had long standing chronic conditions that they were admitted for and because there was an outbreak in the hospital, they also tested positive for COVID.
“But the clinicians look at things like the symptoms that they had before they actually died, looking at all their blood results of the investigations and looking to see whether it actually correlates with a diagnosis of severe COVID-19 or it’s more towards the disease that they were actually admitted for in the first place.
“So this could be things hypothetically like congested cardiac failure, they have heart failure, already and they die, or chronic renal disease where the kidneys are failing because of long standing diabetes, for example.
“So this is what the clinicians look at and we follow the WHO criteria as well and then we can say no, it was not COVID that caused these deaths, these are the diseases they were admitted for, these already very severe diseases,” She said.
In another development, Dr Sahukhan said he national seven-day average daily test positivity is continuing to increase.
She said the country was now averaging about 65 cases per day for the past seven days.
Dr Sahukhan said the ministry also noted an increasing community transmission within the Suva-Nausori containment zone.
“So, all indications are that while we are testing at a very high level and we continue to contact trace, we are seeing increasing community transmission within the Suva-Nausori containment zone and our case numbers will increase as the permanent secretary has mentioned,” she said.
“What this should mean is that everyone must take precautions to protect themselves from getting COVID-19.
“Stay home as much as possible. If you have to leave the house, please wear a mask.
Make sure you have the careFIJI app on if you have a smartphone and keep at least two metres between yourself and others outside your household, to avoid crowds.”
Dr Sahukhan is calling on Fijians to get vaccinated to prevent people from getting severe disease and even dying.
She said getting vaccinated would also help reduce transmission of the virus in the community. “We’ve been through other outbreaks of infectious diseases.
In recent years, it was meningococcal C in 2018, measles in 2019 and together we end these outbreaks and save lives through the vaccination of hundreds of thousands of Fijians.
“Vaccination is not new to Fiji and we need you to come together again, to protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, and protect your communities,” she said.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
COVID-19 has not only decimated Pacific Island economies, it has also catapulted to the fore the urgent need to move towards digital economies and the importance of e-commerce if we are to be on par with the rest of the world.
A report released by UNCTAD early May 2021 stated the “dramatic rise in e-commerce amid movement restrictions induced by COVID-19 increased online retail sales’ share of total retail sales from 16 percent to 19 per cent in 2020.” It also highlighted that global e-commerce sales jumped to US$26.7 trillion in 2019, up four percent from 2018.
Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics said the “statistics show the growing importance of online activities. They also point to the need for countries, especially developing ones, to have such information as they rebuild their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In the Pacific, there have been work towards e-commerce, but no country has advanced as much as Vanuatu, which has implemented its Electronic Single Window system- basically a one-stop shop for border control agencies and traders.
Simply, the single window system aims to address a number of issues- digitalise all border clearances procedures, improve risk management for border agencies, enhance data collection and overall improve trading.
“The overall objective of the Vanuatu Electronic Single Window project is to expand Vanuatu’s GDP through increased exports,” says Manager Electronic Single Window Project, Stanley Trief. “The project outcome is to increase Vanuatu’s competitiveness through the reduction of cost and time of trading across its borders.”
In fact, Vanuatu is proud of many firsts- world’s first Passenger Module created in the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), first direct online payment between a bank and Customs in the Pacific, first ever Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) module for Biosecurity in ASYCUDA. Vanuatu is the first Pacific Island nation to automate Biosecurity border control processing in ASYCUDA.
By the time the Vanuatu Government restricted movements due to COVID-19 in March last year, businesses were already submitting and paying for import and export certificates, licenses and permits online.
“While we have digitalised the processes, we also ensure that all our exported and imported products have met all SPS requirements, including specific import requirements of the importing country as well as Vanuatu’s standards. We need to ensure that we continue to protect Vanuatu’s export markets abroad which is very vital to Vanuatu’s economy when you consider commodities such as kava, copra, cocoa or beef,” Trief said.
From March to December 2020, the single window system had 4,535 SPS applications lodged and processed online, collected over US$326,000 in fees, reduced paper usage by 85 percent. Physical trips by biosecurity officers for SPS submissions, follow-ups, and payments have also been reduced more than half.
In April this year, the Department of Energy came online, instantly reaping benefits for the organisation.
“With the department online, it means the administration work of the department in regulating the importation of appliances has been reduced, and it also ensures a more effective border control since the module will now link the Customs clearance process to the appliances import certificates,” Trief added.
On 27 May, 2021 Vanuatu launched the Customs-Post Interface Project. Vanuatu was selected out of 22 LDC countries worldwide to pilot this initiative to link the ASYCUDA system to the Postal system, CDS.
In the next 12 months, Trief’s team will work on the module to include Vanuatu posts. When implemented, it would mean faster clearances of parcel posts as physical inspections by Customs officers will be reduced.
“We would receive details of the parcel before it arrives in Vanuatu, which means we do not have to inspect every parcel. The current practice is to feel the parcel and guess or trust our instincts on the contents of the parcel,” Trief says.
“We would also be able to police counterfeits and confiscate them as well. We will be able to manage risks better but what is also important is that we would be able to capture data or better statistics on parcel posts.
“Parcel posts have increased during this pandemic as people are doing online shopping more and they are also important for micro and small enterprises.”
E-Commerce in the Region
For the rest of the region, the Oceania Customs Organisation has been working with Customs administrations to advance their e-commerce effects and recently organised its first Virtual Workshop on Digital Customs & Ecommerce. The workshop was to support members in the preparation of a coherent application and implementation of automation, single window and processes to facilitate e-commerce.
“While e-commerce had been a long-term target of Customs administrations, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more urgent to have automated processes,” OCO Head of Secretariat, Richard Brennan said. He further added that, “managing the health crisis during this pandemic is important but it is equally important to manage the economic crisis, for Customs administrations this means ensuring that continuity of trans- border trading.”
Brennan says there are still significant challenges in the region on e-commerce with regards to regulatory frameworks and the application of risk management and technologies to facilitate small value consignments. The workshop provided the opportunity to discuss regional approaches to assisting members in this regard.
“E-commerce has real potential to narrow distances and trade costs, and to promote diversification of Pacific economies. COVID-19 has highlighted the significance of growing cross-border e-commerce and the need for Customs administrations in the Pacific to adequately prepare to facilitate and address issues stemming from e-commerce transactions but at the same time ensure safety and security for all” Brennan said.
The OCO is also contributing to the work on the Pacific E-Commerce strategy led by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
The current implementation of ASYCUDA World for six Pacific Island countries through the PACER Plus funding is another important stepping stone for simplification and facilitation of trade at the national level and also towards regional harmonization of customs procedures.
The OCO Secretariat continues to encourage south-south cooperation through the sharing of best practices to inspire Pacific Island countries to address gaps that would be difficult to tackle individually and find regional solutions that can be adopted and replicated to other customs administrations.
PACNEWS In Focus
The views expressed in PACNEWS are those of agencies contributing articles and do not necessarily those of PINA and/or PACNEWS
Written by Ancuta Hansen
As with their sisters around the world, many women in the Pacific Islands are victims of violence. While much of this violence occurs within the family, a socio-cultural environment accustomed to violence against women has repercussions for women’s participation in public life, particularly in politics. At times, police are not the solution but rather the perpetrators of violence against women. Civil society has been speaking up against the lack of support from law enforcement authorities and the common practice of police officers pushing women victims of domestic violence to reconcile with the perpetrators.
To explore structural and socio-cultural barriers to political participation and the nature and perpetrators of violence against women in politics, the National Democratic Institute with support from femLINKpacific conducted qualitative research in Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Solomon Islands and made recommendations to address the issues that affect politically engaged women.
Female politicians interviewed for this research have all experienced first-hand, or witnessed, acts of violence against women engaged in political activities. While physical assault is less common, many politically active women are victims of character assassination and libellous accusations. Fear of being ostracised or viewed as a ‘victim’, and a lack of faith in the justice system, prevent women from reporting violence against them. Several female participants suggested that since violence against women in politics is a large part of their culture, it is an expected price they pay to engage in politics. Although all three countries included in this research have legal provisions outlawing violence against women, and many institutions have policies to regulate behaviour among members, participants noted that institutional mechanisms to prevent gender-based violence are inadequate or not appropriately enforced.
Violence against women in politics is a troubling type of violence, particularly as it compounds traditional political violence – defined as the use of force and intimidation against political opponents – and gender-based violence used to silence women’s voices. The issue has many expressions but the same purpose: to keep women disempowered and away from politics.
Across the world, attacks against women in politics, including character assassination, tend to be extremely personal and often of a sexual nature. Having engaged in politics myself in the past, I can relate to the women politicians in the Pacific Islands who shared experiences of intimidation and defamation, that hurt not only themselves but also their families and friends.
In small communities where strong clan ties and a culture of shame prevail, rumours of a sexual nature – often portrayed as ‘gossip’ – can be devastating. Furthermore, the ever-present social media has become the breeding environment for pervasive misogyny, hate speech and psychological violence, shattering women’s political ambitions, participation, and overall expression.
Since a major intention of violence against women is to deter them from going into politics and minimise their chances of being elected, it is not surprising that most attacks against women politicians seem to occur during election contests – either when the woman seeks nomination within her party or during the election campaign itself.
For some women politicians, dealing with violence is the implicit cost of their political engagement. As a female leader in Bougainville described it, “this is part of politics, so I cannot report this kind of verbal intimidation, but I can grow from it and encourage others in the future”.
Fiji and PNG are gearing up for important general elections slated for 2022, an opportunity to strengthen these countries’ democratic processes by ensuring fair and inclusive elections.
In PNG, despite proven skills and tenacity in leading peace building, service delivery and social change in their country, gaining access to political power and decision-making positions at all levels of the government remains a distant goal for women.
Insights from Fijian and Solomon Islands women politicians elected to public office show that there is still a need across the region to continue to normalise women’s presence in political decision-making positions, denounce defamation attacks, and make a common front against misogyny.
According to women participating in this research, perpetrators of violence against them were often either members of their own political party or supporters of other parties – both men and women. Ahead of the next elections, political parties in Fiji and PNG should review intra-party codes of conduct to create an atmosphere of trust and encouragement for victims to come forward. Parties can consider sanctions and dismissal for members who engage in any form of harassment, bullying or violence.
We also suggest that women political activists actively promote women’s solidarity by initiating inter-party collaboration to educate and develop strategies to combat violence.
As they prepare for next year’s elections, election management bodies and political parties in Fiji and PNG can do more to mitigate violence against women in elections, by raising awareness among their staff and members and supporting multi-party anti-violence pledges during elections. Civil society organisations such as the Bougainville Women’s Federation – which has been monitoring violence against women in elections – can share valuable policy advice on raising awareness and enforcing legislation to prevent violence against women voters, candidates, and polling officials alike.
Ancuta Hansen is the National Democratic Institute Director for the Pacific Islands. She has 20 years of experience in countries in democratic transition, and was a political organiser, election candidate, and elected official in her home country, Romania.
The views expressed in PACNEWS are those of agencies contributing articles and do not necessarily those of PINA and/or PACNEWS
By Christopher Pala
It has been described as “the most remarkable achievement of the Pacific island countries in the last 50 years”.
In 1982, eight, mostly minuscule Pacific island countries in whose waters much of the world’s skipjack tuna was caught got together and decided to do something to get a share of the profits, of which they received precisely nothing.
In a shining example of regional cooperation, the group, known as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), successively outmanoeuvred the United States, Japan and Taiwan, and later mainland China and the European Union.
“It was a David versus Goliath situation from the start,” said Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific Islands Program of the Lowy Institute in Sydney.
Over four decades of trial and error, they created a system that Pryke calls “revolutionary” that today not only yields them half a billion dollars a year but also prevents the overfishing that international fishing fleets have carried out to deplete the waters off most poor countries.
They were, from east to west, six micro-states made up mostly of tiny islands (Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau) and two midsized countries, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
The key to success, said Ludwig Kumoru, the outgoing chief executive of the PNA, was to jettison a system in which the PNA nations undercut each other in trying to sell fishing rights in their waters to foreign fleets – and replace it with another, called the Vessel-Day Scheme. That scheme sees them calculate how much tuna fishing is sustainable and then divides that amount up into fishing days for which fishing companies bid.
“We set the minimum price of a day at US$8,000 a day, up from US$2,500 at the beginning, but demand was so high that we’ve been getting US$12,000 to US$14,000 a day,” Kumoru said.
“All our fish stocks are healthy,” said Transform Aqorau, a Solomon Islands lawyer who became the first chief executive of the PNA in 2010, and was largely responsible for introducing the scheme.
“And they are likely are likely to remain healthy if recent levels of exploitation continue,” confirmed John Hampton, chief scientist as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the region’s top fisheries scientist.
‘Host countries weren’t getting a penny’
Sean Dorney, a veteran Pacific correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, remembers being present at the creation of the PNA in 1982 – a meeting on the phosphate-rich island nation of Nauru of the fisheries ministers of the 16-nation Forum Fisheries Agency, which oversees fishing in the Pacific and includes Australia and New Zealand. Dorney flew in from Port Moresby because he sensed something big was about to happen.
“There was a palpable sense of frustration,” he said. “None of the fish were being landed in any of the eight countries where they were fished, they were all trans-shipped to refrigerated ships and taken to Bangkok or Japan, and the host countries weren’t getting a penny.”
When the eight countries signed what would become the original Nauru agreement – to coordinate their relations with the foreign fishing fleets – “They had no clear sense of what they realistically could expect,” Dorney said. “All we knew was that this was a historic moment.”
Looking back, “the creation of PNA is probably the most remarkable achievement of the Pacific island countries in the last 50 years, a shining example of cooperation,” he added.
Lowy’s Pryke said: “In today’s climate, it would be much harder to create a PNA, because regionalism is at a low ebb.”
The PNA took years to refine into a system that generated significant profit for the Pacific nations. Fees grew slowly in the decade after signing the PNA.
By the mid-1990s, the massive expansion of the international tuna fleets was beginning to peak, but the eight countries were receiving a tiny fraction of the profits realised by the fleets when the fish were landed. “So there was no real cap, no competition and no scarcity, and the fees they collected were still way below 5% of the landed value of the fish,” said Michael Lodge, a young British lawyer, joined the Forum Fisheries Agency, the regional agency that supervised Pacific fishing, as its legal adviser in 1989.
It wasn’t until 2011 that the PNA hit on the winning formula. The Vessel Day Scheme, which had already been implemented, was refined to allow the secretariat to sell days valid in all eight countries, then bill the fleet for the days fished in each country and pass on those fees to the countries.
The system also allowed the countries momentarily without fish – say the Western Pacific’s Federated States of Micronesia in an El Niño year – to sell its days to the Central Pacific’s Kiribati, where the fish were, and Kiribati could resell them to the fishers, evening out the yearly revenues of each state.
This trading enormously increased the value of each day, said Aqorau. “Now we’re getting 25% of the dockside sale price of the skipjack, up from 2% or 3% a decade ago.”
For Kiribati, which has the group’s biggest Exclusive Economic Zone (bigger than the land area of India) but one of the smallest economies (it has just 113,000 people), the scheme has raised fishing revenues from $25m a decade ago to $160m, or $1,400 per capita, allowing for all manner of social spending and infrastructure work, notably to raise the frequently flooded, overpopulated parts of Tarawa, the capital, as well as to provide government funding for students, people with disabilities, those who are unemployed, and elderly people.
“It’s hugely improved the life of the people,” said former president Teburoro Tito.
In Papua New Guinea, the largest country and economy in the Pacific Islands, the increase in fees income from US$20m to US$80m a year has been mostly earmarked to develop sustainable coastal fisheries and cooperative fish farming.
“It’s made a big difference in coastal communities,” added Kumoru, the PNA’s acting chief executive, who is from PNG.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN/PACNEWS
Māori All Blacks Coach Clayton McMillan has named a settled squad ahead of their two-match series against Manu Samoa.
It will be the first time the sides have met since 2008, with matches at Sky Stadium in Wellington (June 26) and an exciting double header alongside the All Blacks and Tonga at Mt Smart in Auckland (July 3).
The squad features two debutants, 21-year-old Waikato and Chiefs prop Ollie Norris along with Otago and Highlanders loose forward Josh Dickson.
Ash Dixon has been named as kāpene of the squad, having made his debut for the side in 2013 he has led the past five campaigns.
Ollie Norris has had a meteoric rise in the front row, only converting positions from the loose forwards in his last year at St Peter’s Cambridge and has since earned 10 caps for Waikato and 16 for the Chiefs.
Josh Dickson’s form, work rate and aerial skills have also been recognised.
“Josh has been consistent performer throughout both Super Rugby for the Highlanders and NPC for Otago,” McMillan said.
“He is highly regarded for his ability in the lineout and has an established relationship with Ash, Pari Pari and Manaaki. Having combinations like this will be important when preparing for a short campaign.
“Ollie has progressed through New Zealand age group teams and transitioned really well into Super Rugby. He has a strong set piece, but stood out with his ball playing ability which will suit the style of play we will be hoping to achieve.
“Following the departure of Ross Wright and the experienced Ben May it allows us to grow our front row,” McMillan said.
The Māori All Blacks played one match in 2021, a 28-21 victory over Moana Pasifika in Hamilton.
“We introduced a number of new players into our environment last year so to have them back for this series is pleasing. I am confident that Ollie and Josh will transition from their Super clubs to our whānau with ease.
“We only have a short build up, and we are expecting a fierce challenge from Samoa as they lead into their World Cup qualifying match. We know that will add an extra edge to the match and that is something we are looking forward to.
“Our players have an immense amount of pride pulling on the Māori All Blacks jersey and with that representing their whānau and iwi, and we know that our Samoan brothers feel the same. Playing alongside the All Blacks v Tonga match at Mt Smart will be a very special occasion”
McMillan is joined in the coaching group again by Roger Randle and for the first time, Chris Gibbes, from the Hurricanes.
“Chris is a highly experienced coach who will bring with him a wealth of knowledge. He is a specialised forwards coach and is well known for bringing a hard edge which will be an important trait.”
“His younger brother, Jono, was a great captain of the Māori All Blacks, this is an opportunity for Chris to now add his mark to the Māori All Blacks whānau.”
Māori All Blacks Squad
Josh Hohneck – Otago, Ngāti Manuhiri / Ngāti Whātua
Pouri Rakete-Stones – Hawke’s Bay, Ngāpuhi
Ollie Norris – Waikato, Ngāpuhi
Marcel Renata – Auckland, Ngāti Whānaunga / Ngāi Takoto
Tamaiti Williams – Canterbury, Ngāpuhi
Ash Dixon (kāpene) – Hawke’s Bay, Ngāti Tahinga
Kurt Eklund – Bay of Plenty, Ngāti Kahu
Manaaki Selby-Rickit – Bay of Plenty, Ngāti Raukawa / Ngāti Tūwharetoa
Isaia Walker-Leawere – Hawke’s Bay, Ngāti Porou
Pari Pari Parkinson – Tasman, Te Whānau ā Apanui
Josh Dickson – Otago, Ngāi Tahu
Billy Harmon – Canterbury, Ngāi Tahu
Reed Prinsep – Canterbury, Te Rārawa
Whetukamokamo Douglas – Bay of Plenty Ngāti Porou / Ngāti Whakaue
Bryn Hall – North Harbour, Ngāti Ranginui
Sam Nock – Northland, Ngāpuhi
Otere Black – Bay of Plenty, Ngāi Tuhoe/Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Tūwharetoa
Josh Ioane – Otago, Te Rārawa
Billy Proctor – Wellington, Ngai Te Rangi / Ngāpuhi
Quinn Tupaea – Waikato, Waikato
Alex Nankivell – Tasman, Ngāpuhi
Sean Wainui – Bay of Plenty, Ngāi Tuhoe / Ngā Arikikaiputahi / Ngāti Porou
Shaun Stevenson – North Harbour, Ngāpuhi
Jonah Lowe – Hawke’s Bay, Ngāti Pikiao
Kaleb Trask – Bay of Plenty, Ngāpuhi.
SOURCE: STUFF NZ/PACNEWS
Samoan weightlifter Iuniarra Sipaia has confirmed her spot in the Tokyo Olympics next month and says she is honored to be representing the country.
Sipaia told the Samoa Observer in an interview on Tuesday that she felt honored and privileged to be attending her first ever Olympics and is hopeful of snatching a gold medal in her category.
SWA Samoa Weightlifting President Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork also confirmed her attendance.
“Just officially confirmed yesterday Iuniarra Sipaia has now also qualified for Tokyo making it three weightlifters, the most ever we have qualified for [in] an Olympic Games,” he said.
Describing how she felt upon getting the news of her Olympic qualification, Sipaia said it was unreal but a challenging journey to get to where she is now.
“First of all I would like to thank everyone that supported my journey and now I have successfully reached another level of my talents,” she said.
“This is my first ever Olympics and I must say it is not an easy road for me.
“I have always prayed and hoped for this [and] now that it has come true I am very happy indeed.”
Sipaia is competing in the super weight category and is ranked 8th in the world.
According to Tuaopepe, for athletes who are in the world’s top 10, there are no doubts as to their qualification for the Olympics.
Qualification for this year’s Tokyo Olympics is a step up from Sipaia’s Pacific Games and Commonwealth Games appearances.
“I am overwhelmed but I will continue to work hard and make sure I bring home the gold medal,” she said.
“It is my first time to represent Samoa at a level different from the Commonwealth and Pacific Games.
“Now the training will be extra hard as we need to be fit and be able to lift heavy weights and be the personal best in these Olympics.”
“We worked hard to qualify so we must also work hard to achieve the main goal of going there.”
Having already ticked the box, Sipaia’s biggest fear now is getting injured before the start of the competition.
However, she believes she is able to overcome injuries and is going to make her mark next month in Tokyo.
“The worst that could happen for a weightlifter is getting injured before a game, it can drag down or ruin your preparations for so many months that you have trained.
“But I am grateful for the support I have here in my weightlifting family, from our President and coach to my weightlifting family.
“We continue to push one another to their limits and I hope that more of us will be able to go.”
Hailing from the villages of Avele and Saoluafata and aged 27, the weightlifter said she hopes her lifelong dream comes true through the winning of a medal.
SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS