On two wheels in New Caledonia

by Guest Author, Anthony Nanson


The first time I came back from New Caledonia, in 2007, I showed my friend Peter a map of the country and he said, ‘It looks like it could be a great place to cycle in.’ Peter is crazy about cycling, has cycle-toured in many countries. When I returned to Caledonia ten years later, he customised a bike specially for my needs: tough enough to handle rough roads, good on tarmac too, and able to carry four paniers with full camping kit.

There was lots of preparation for this trip, and lots of expense – it’s about as far away as you can go from Gloucestershire – and it’s not entirely straightforward to transport a bicycle by air. So you can imagine how I felt, my first day in Nouméa, when I asked at the tourist office about the best route to cycle north out of the city and they told me, ‘There’s only one road out of Nouméa and it’s forbidden to go by bicycle, it’s a motorway, and the police will arrest you.’ Surely, there was a back road? I just wanted to get out of the city to cycle round the island. ‘No, there’s only that road and the main roads everywhere are extremely dangerous; people drive very fast. If you want to have a bike ride, there are places where you can go to do that.’

In due course I saw how it works: mountain bikes strapped on the back of a four-by-four speeding down the highway to a car park from which you can do a day’s circuit on dirt roads. That wasn’t what I had in mind. You don’t need a tent for that. And my whole purpose in coming here, as a novelist researching a book whose story concept had come like a bolt out of the blue during my previous visit, was to travel around the country, using the bicycle – and tent – as a means of engaging more porously with people and place than had been possible the last time, when I had a hire car.

On the offshore island of Lifou, cycling was fine. It’s not a big place and, though the roads are quite straight and fast, people overtook courteously, I didn’t feel in danger, and I even saw a few local men – middle-aged ones like me – using a bike as if it really were the natural mode of transport in that scale of landscape. Back on Grande Terre, the mainland, I had to put my bike in the hold of a bus to get out of Nouméa and far enough north that the main road was no longer a motorway. It was still extremely fast, though. It was built for speed – straight and broad. Cars didn’t pass very often but when they did they hurtled past at well over 100 miles an hour, especially on the west coast. The east coast road has windier bends but there too the cars will go fast when they can. Only once did I see another cyclist and that was in a town. Everyone who found out I had a bicycle was keen to tell me the story of a cyclist a couple of years back who’d been doing the circuit of Grand Terre and been killed by a drunk driver. Though there are plenty of unmade roads that branch into the countryside to the tribes and farms, most of them are dead ends, they don’t make a network, and always you have to come back to the main road that follows the coast.

It seemed a shame, and not just from the point of view of cycle-touring. Here was a small country, with a small population, abundant natural and cultural wealth, fabulous landscape, and an absolutely unique ecology. An opportunity, you might imagine, to develop in bold new ways, in tune with the environment; but, so far as roads are concerned, the impulse is to make things as fast and modern as possible, to provide the most rapid access from the rural north to the capital city in the south.

But I was just a visitor, of course. It’s up to the people of a place to decide how they want to be. And in fact I had a great time. The bicycle and tent and the dirt roads did enable me to see something of the country’s interior, and, most importantly, to meet people, especially Kanak people in the tribes, in a way I never would have done with a car. It was an excuse to stop overnight, to talk, to offer the customary gift and be invited to look around. What I saw inland was a life quite different from the life of the big road, a life that seems still in tune with the environment, that turns on the seasonal cycles of small-scale crops and the intimacy of community. The hospitality I received was humbling, the conversations often profound, for all the limitations of the schoolboy French I’d been polishing up the preceding year.

So my trip was not the flop I feared it might be that first day at the tourist office. In fact, it exceeded all my hopes in terms of meeting people and learning about their lives. I didn’t spend quite as much of my time in Caledonia on two wheels as I expected. That’s thanks largely to the extraordinarily generous hospitality I received in Nouméa also, and the many interesting people I talked to there, who gave other perspectives upon the life of this country from those I encountered in the bush.

Let me finish this piece by being honest. If you’re looking for a country to go cycle-touring in, I wouldn’t really recommend New Caledonia as ideal, but it’s a fabulous country, blessed in so many ways – and, for my particular purposes, a push bike, a tent, and the new friends that I made really proved to be the key to the kingdom.


It’s been a while … at New Caledonia Today

Photo Julie Harris

Photo Julie Harris

What the heck happened? Several among you have sent me messages to know if I am still in New Caledonia. Where did I go? Why did I stop writing? The truth is, 2015 hit us with a wallop. In mid-January I found myself in the emergency room and then a few days in the hospital with every battery of heart and brain test you can imagine. If anyone wants to know what medical care is like – or my experience of it – in New Caledonia, shoot me a note and I’ll think about blogging about it. Yes, New Caledonia has trained medical staff and all the modern equipment (if perhaps in limited quantities). Yes, hygiene is good. Yes, the food is bad (but isn’t all hospital food bad?). Yes, it’s horrible waiting around all day in a hospital bed. But again, I think it’s the same everywhere. Would I want to spend a lot of time in the hospitals/clinics here? No. But then I wouldn’t want to do that anywhere. February saw a world school trip to Vanuatu which was out of this world – and just ahead of Cyclone Pam. We were extremely lucky to see and taste and smell the beauty Vanuatu has to offer before it experienced such destruction. We met and spent many an hour with the locals on several islands (Efate, Malekula, Santo, Tanna) – and our minds and hearts will be forever etched with their kindnesses, with their pure happiness with next to nothing. March and April have seen full-on work and school for Pablo and I, without a break. We’ve learned that we are moving to the south of France for August of this year. And so starts the return move machine. We’ve purchased our around-the-world return tickets (they feel like around-the-world, but as we’re not returning to New Caledonia, they aren’t really), started sorting our things to sell and to give, have met with movers, talked with the quarantine about moving our pet and are facing the inevitable end of our stay here. What has been happening in New Caledonia?

And of course we still have the car accidents and the road deaths, the random fights and the stolen vehicles. We have the high cost of living and problems with the nickel plants, the polluted beaches and the political disputes. On the bright side, we have leopard shark love in central Nouméa (see below), the most beautiful weather you can imagine, stunning views, a pristine lagoon, clean air and a high quality of life. We are free of much of the crime we see on TV in the United States and Europe, we live simply, unconsumed by consumerism, we live with the sun and spend much of our lives outside. Would you live here, if you could (and you don’t)? I guarantee you would miss it, having had it for a few weeks, months or years. I’ll do what I can to keep writing before we leave. If there are any topics you’d like to know more about before this chapter closes, shout, and I’ll see what I can do to accommodate you. Knowing you’re there keeps me thinking about all the best things there are to share about life in New Caledonia.

New Caledonia in solidarity

With the horrifying events this last week in France, New Caledonia has stood in solidarity with France. Within hours of the news on Thursday morning our time, 1,000 people met at the Place des Cocotiers to express their shock, pain, disbelief and solidarity with the victims, and with France. Others gathered throughout the day throughout New Caledonia.

It is very hard for those of us who have friends and family in Paris and France as we text, Skype and email our support, our love and our encouragements back 22,000 kilometres – and harder still for those in France. Facebook and Twitter feeds document living with sirens, terror in unexpected alarms, deep sadness during moments of silence, anger at such dramatic and sudden loss, a complete defense of freedom of expression.

Photo Victor Raison, Les Nouvelles calédoniennes

Photo Victor Raison, Les Nouvelles calédoniennes

At least 1 million people are expected to march in Paris today in solidarity against this week’s terrorist attacks in the city. New Caledonia will be with them, among but many around the world. 1 million will march. How many millions will be there in heart, mind and spirit?

Windsurfing: Airwaves Nouméa Dream Cup 2014

With a week that started off windless, those of us who love and watch windsurfing here in New Caledonia were a little worried. We’ve known windless days at Anse Vata (Nouméa), and weeks before we’d asked our friends at Aloha Windsurfing what would happen if there were no wind for the Windsurfing World Cup, a return to the island after 19 years’ absence. “That’s not a possibility,” said Gégé, “there will be wind.”

Gégé was right. The wind kicked up last Thursday and by Saturday, at 25 knots, we’d only seen wind that strong on pre-cyclone days. Thank goodness the wind held, the sun shone, and the champions from all over the world got what they’d flown so far for. Amazing! Sunday (23 November) saw just an inkling less wind and the fans were out en masse for the spectacular finals (watch the video above to get a sense of the extraordinary sailing and excitement).

The race in Nouméa was hailed again and again by the competitors as “one of the best spots in the world for the slalom“. As the newly crowned 2014 World Cup Champion, Antoine Albeau, stated, “The conditions were incredible, proof that this course must return to the pro circuit.”

Windsurfing Finals 2014 NC

Photo Julie Harris

Chatting with Sarah Quita-Offringa of Aruba, who placed 3rd in the race, she said this was the best spot for windsurfing she’d been to all year – just incredible sailing out there! The jubilation was all over her face.

Unfortunately, after winning the semi-final with a fabulous finish well ahead of her competitors, Sarah’s wishbone broke during the final race. We’d seen her go down and struggle to keep her sail steady. She says next year she’ll be ready and better organised – instead of thinking her wishbone will hold (it had already been breaking before the final) – she’ll be ready with another one. When she said she hoped to see us next year, we were surprised. She said, “Everyone is so happy with this race. They want it to come back!”

What a success for everyone – the competitors, the local windsurfers, the organisers, and the fans. Congratulations to all the competitors, including Matthieu Blavette, our son’s windsurfing trainer. You were all breathtaking to watch!

I do so hope Nouméa will see this race again in its near future: it’s time to share this site and conditions once again with the world.

To see all of the marvelous pictures and videos from this event, see: http://www.airwaves-noumeadreamcup.nc/en/ and http://www.pwaworldtour.com/index.php?id=2075

Photo Julie Harris

Photo Julie Harris

France returns skull of New Caledonian chief

This post is reproduced in full from The History Blog here: France returns skull of New Caledonian chief.

Return-ceremony-Great-Kanak-Chief-of-La-Foa-district-Berge-Kawa-150x100After 135 years, the skull of High Chief Ataï from the Pacific archipelago of New Caledonia has been returned to his homeland. In a ceremony on August 28th, France’s Overseas Territories Minister George Pau-Langevin gave the skull to Bergé Kawa, a chief in his own right and a direct descendant of Ataï. This is a righting of a wrong that has been very long in coming.

Captain Cook was the first European to encounter the main island in 1774. He named it New Caledonia because the cliffs of the east coast reminded him of the Scottish Highlands. French explorers mapped more of the archipelago, Bruni d’Entrecasteaux in 1792, Durmont d’Urville in 1827. British Protestant missionaries arrived in 1840 and with the discovery of sandalwood the next year, British merchants followed. French Catholic missionaries came in 1843. Religious conflict ensued with the Catholics ultimately coming out on top. New Caledonia was formally claimed as a French colony by Admiral Auguste Febvrier-Despointes in 1853, and two years later all land on the main island was declared property of the French state.

Outside walls of Canak prison before 1906The French used it as a penal colony for the second half of the 19th century. An estimated 20,000 prisoners were transported to New Caledonia between 1864 and 1897, including 4,000 or so deported for their involvement in the Paris Commune and 100 Algerian insurrectionists. Most of them were put to work in the nickel and copper mines. While French authorities sent foreign laborers and settlers to the archipelago, they took indigenous people out. Many of the Kanak (a general name given to people from a wide variety of different tribes and clans with almost 30 mutually unintelligible languages) were enslaved or coerced into forced labor in Australia, Fiji, Canada, India, Japan, Malaysia and Chile, to name a few.

The ones were remained were in barely better straits. In 1864, convicts who were deemed worthy were freed and given land grants. More than 100,000 hectares of the richest farmland were deeded out to former convicts. In 1868, an order was promulgated forcing the indigenous people onto reservations, moving them inland close to the mountains where the land was barely arable. Many were made to work the plantations and ranches of French settlers without pay.

Engraving of Ataï published in French magazine "Le Voleur" on October 4th, 1878Under these kinds of pressure, it’s no surprise that conflicts exploded. Small revolts began in the 1850s but were quickly suppressed by overwhelming French force. It all came to a head in 1878. A drought in 1877 had taken a huge toll on the cattle, so the governor granted ranchers grazing rights on reservation lands. The stock were let loose on fallow fields, but there weren’t any fences. The cattle just walked on over to the farmed land and ate the yam and taro crops that were all the tribes had to live on. Already displaced from lands which defined their identities and to which they had a profound religious connection, the Kanaks couldn’t tolerate having what was left of their livelihoods threatened by French cows.

High Chief Ataï of the Petit Couli tribe sought out the French governor. The chief poured out a bag of soil in front of the governor and said, “This is what we had.” Then he dumped a bag of rocks out and said, “This is what you have left us.” The governor replied that they should protect their crops by building fences. Ataï responded: “When the taro eat the cattle, I’ll build the fences.”

Violent clashes ensued, with Kanaks attacking settlers and tribal leaders being imprisoned in retaliation. Ataï realized that localized revolts would go nowhere. He created an alliance between multiple tribes to fight the French. In June of 1878, the allied tribes launched an attack on troops and settlers. Their guerilla warfare was so successful that the French commander called for reinforcements from Indochina.

In August, Ataï and 500 warriors besieged a fort the French had built in La Foa on the southwest coast. At first the siege appeared to be going well for the Kanak side, but then the French managed to make a deal with Gelina, the High Chief of the Canala tribe, dividing the Kanak forces. Then the reinforcements from Indochina arrived. At the end of the month, a motley team of French regulars, convicts, former Communards who were promised their freedom in return for fighting on the side of a government they had once fought against so passionately, former Algerian rebels in the same position, and Kanak warriors from the Canala tribe surrounded Ataï’s army.

Louise Michel, 1880On September 1st, a detachment of French military encountered the chief, his three sons and his bard (the French anthropologists called him a “sorcerer”) Andia on the way back to the Kanak encampment. A Canala warrior with the French identified the chief from his shock of white hair. Communard hero Louise Michel, aka the Red Virgin, who had taught school during her New Caledonian exile and who was one of the only Communards to side with the Kanak, seeing in them the same struggle for liberty that she and her comrades had fought for, described the scene thus in her memoirs (pdf):

The traitor Segou faltered for a moment under the look of the old chief, but then, wanting it all to be over, he threw his short spear at Ataï and it pierced the old chief’s right arm. Ataï raised his axe in his left hand as his sons were shot down around him, one killed and the others wounded.

Andia lunged forward crying out, “Tango! Tango! (Cursed! Cursed!),” but he was shot dead instantly. Then Segou moved in against the wounded Ataï, and with his own axe struck blow after blow, the way he would have chopped at a tree.

Ataï fell, and Segou grabbed at his partially severed head. He struck him several more blows, and Ataï was finally dead. Seeing Ataï fall at Segou’s hands, the Kanaks unleashed their death cry in an echo to the mountains. The Kanaks love the brave.

Engraving of the heads being given to the French, 1881The war would claim 1,000 Kanak lives and 200 French. Enslavement, disease and war took a terrible toll on the Kanak population. There were about 70,000 indigenous people living on the islands of New Caledonia when Cook arrived in 1774. By 1921, there were only 27,000 left.

The heads of Ataï, Andia and Ataï’s adolescent son were all severed, as was one of Ataï’s hands. Ship’s Lieutenant Servant received Andia’s head and Ataï’s head and hand from Segou and sold them for 200 francs to Dr. Navarre, a naval doctor. He packed the remains in tin boxes filled with phenol and shipped them to Professor Paul Broca, founder and president of the Anthropological Society of Paris (SAP). According to the minutes of SAP’s 396th meeting held on October 23, 1879 (Page 616 here), they arrived in a “perfect state of conservation. They emit no odor and we hope that the brain, even though they’re still in their skulls, will still be good for study.” Professor Broca:

Atai's skullThe magnificent head of the chief Ataï draws the most attention. It is very expressive; the forehead is especially very beautiful, very high and very wide. The hair is completely woolly, the skin completely black. The nose is very platyrrhine, as wide as it is high. The hand, broad and powerful, is very well-formed, except for one finger that is retracted due to an old injury. Palmar creases are similar to ours.

Andia’s head gets the same treatment, although it’s worse in some ways because it seems he suffered from some form of dwarfism so there’s a lot of gross talk about how savages see deformity.

Ataï death maskChief Ataï’s head was cast in bronze by Félix Flandinette, after which it was stripped of flesh and that brain they were so keen to get a look at, and the skull was kept with the SAP collection of skulls in the Faculty of Medicine in Paris. In 1951, SAP’s skull collection was transferred to the Musée de l’Homme where they’ve been kept in a cabinet for decades. Ataï’s death mask has been on display, but Ataï’s and Andia’s skulls never have been.

Nonetheless, their treatment as specimens was and is deeply offensive to the Kanak. It has played a part in the consistent tension between New Caledonia and France even after the 1998 Noumea Accord, which granted some measure of autonomy to the territory along with the promise of a referendum on independence by 2018.

“These remains bring us back to our own reality: we are two peoples, two cultures which have never ceased to clash with each other and still clash today,” Kawa said [at the return ceremony].

“We were ravaged by the French state. It is therefore up to the French state to give us back our property,” he added.

New Caledonia recycles: Nearly 100 tons collected in 6 months

The following article is a translation of the original article printed in Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes, 14 July 2014. I was encouraged by this news and had to share it with you. For those of you who live in countries that have been recycling for years already, know that recycling is very new in New Caledonia.

Photo by Antoine Pecquet, LNC

Photo by Antoine Pecquet, LNC

Installed in December 2013, the 32 voluntary collection points have reached their first evaluation period. The municipality is satisfied with the collection of paper and aluminum in particular. The CaledoClean Association is less enthusiastic.

After 6 months in operation, the city of Nouméa sees its voluntary collection points more than half full. “Depending on the neighborhood, the points vary between 50% to 90% full,” says Françoise Suvé, responsible for the environment. As a reminder, each collection point has two columns. One collects newspapers and magazines, the other aluminum cans.  The programme cost 22 million CFP (€184,360 or AUD 265,472) and  its operating costs per year is estimated at 12 million CFP (€100,560 or AUD 144,802). In 6 months, Nouméens have thrown away nearly 100 tons of recyclable waste, collected by Pacific Star and processed by CSP Fidelio, under the responsibility of the Intercommunal Association of Greater Nouméa. For the CaledoClean Association, which argues in favour of a more environmentally responsible company, it’s better late than never. “The collection points represent progress,” observed Bizien Thibaut, President of CaledoClean, “but with a huge delay in the local aluminum recycling industry, which is 20 years old.” The ecologist also points to the limitation of the programme to just paper and aluminum. “Fortunately, private initiatives have already been taken, like collecting plastic bottle caps by the Association for the Protection of Nature in New Caledonia (ASNNC), and used batteries by Trecodec.”

Contributions. Even though the programme has had a variable success rate depending on neighbourhood, the city dismisses the idea that ecologically responsible behavior is related to soci0-economic background. “People are participating in Ducos and Riviere Salee as much as they are in southern Noumea,” says David Boyer, Head of the Urban Cleanliness. “We need to refine the results,” says Françoise Suvé, “to determine why some collection points work better than others.” Among the possible explanations, good habits are already in place. “Where the SIC have already established collection points, as in Tuband, people will contribute less to our collection points,” thinks Ms. Suvé. With regard to public incivility, despite three fires and graffiti, Noumea is far from the fiasco seen in Paita, where test collection points had to be removed after being turned into dumps. “Our officers check the collection points each morning. If there is garbage within 15 meters, it is removed. And we have a person responsible for the anti-graffiti campaign on the collection points. We allow no damage to get installed or remain,” says David Boyer.

Bins. For the moment, there are no plans to increase the number of collection points in Nouméa. However, new additional paper and aluminum collection points will be installed at 2 new landfills, promised to open in September, at Magenta and 6eme Kilometre. Co-financed by the city, ADEME and the Southern Province, the equipment will be modeled on the collection points at Ducos and managed, as those are, by CSP Fidelio and will receive all non-household waste. By investing more than 100 million CFP (€838,000 or AUD 1,206,689), the city hopes to improve its environmental protection. Nevertheless, for CaledoClean, the landfills will not solve everything. “Noumea lacks, above all, simple bins in public places,” laments Thibaut Bizien.

Protesters burn vehicles, buildings at New Caledonia nickel mine

The article below is reproduced in its entirety from https://uk.news.yahoo.com/protesters-burn-vehicles-buildings-caledonia-nickel-mine-071535517.html#LVKdsF7 

Readers will find a short update on the situation further below. Photos courtesy of Les Nouvelles caledoniennes.

Protesters burn vehicles, buildings at New Caledonia nickel mine

By Cecile Lefort and Melanie Burton  | Reuters – Tue, May 27, 2014

Photo Thierry Perron, LNC

Photo Thierry Perron, LNC

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Rioters torched vehicles, equipment and buildings at Vale’s nickel mine in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia over the weekend, as anger boiled over about a chemical spill in a local river.

The $6 billion Vale plant at Goro in southern New Caledonia was closed earlier this month after some 100,000 litres of acid-tainted effluent leaked, killing about 1,000 fish and sparking renewed protests at the mine site.

The Vale plant has a production target of 60,000 tonnes of nickel at full capacity, compared with global supply of around 2 million tonnes. But it has been beset by problems in recent years, including several chemical spills and violent protests.

Tensions between the local population and Vale escalated over the weekend with young protesters frustrated at the latest spill by the Brazilian-based giant and a lack of response from indigenous Kanak chiefs, according to local media. Television footage showed images of burnt mining vehicles and equipment.

“There was damage at the site, but no damage to the plant. We had burned vehicles, one administration building was damaged, but no damage to the plant itself,” Vale spokesman Cory McPhee told Reuters.

Peter Poppinga, an executive director at Vale, told Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper that damage to the mining site was estimated at at least $20 million to $30 million, including the destruction of perhaps one third of the truck fleet.

“If there is no activity for several months, we will shut the plant, but that’s not the case. The closing of the plant is not on the table,” Poppinga was quoted as saying.

The scale of the damage could not immediately be independently verified.

Nickel mining is a key industry in New Caledonia, which holds as much as a quarter of the world’s known reserves. Vale’s plant is the second-largest employer in the southern province, with some 3,500 employees and contractors, including a large number of Filipino workers.


New Caledonia’s southern provincial government ordered an immediate halt to operations after the spill earlier this month and started legal proceedings under its environmental code.

The local government, which changed leadership last week, said it would not lift the production suspension until safety procedures were revised, an oversight committee was reinstated and an independent expert’s report was completed.

“We got to this point because, clearly, part of the local youth, particularly from the southern tribes, reject the perspective of maintaining the plant in activity, even with the reinforcement of safety procedures,” Philippe Michel, the newly elected president of New Caledonia’s Southern Province, told local television on Monday.

Global nickel prices hit a 27-month high earlier this month and are up by about 40 percent this year, driven by a decision by Indonesia to halt exports of raw nickel ores and news of the Goro closure. Indonesia’s ban left nickel buyers in China and Japan scrambling to secure supplies amid a fear of shortages.

“Vale’s got lots of issues in the country,” said Tom Price, a mining analyst at UBS in Sydney. “Nickel has recovered back to the marginal cost of production. It’s inviting for them to continue to invest, but it’s been a world of pain for them for quite a few years.”

Given market expectations of Goro production of just 15,000-20,000 tonnes this year, any impact on nickel prices from the closure would be sentiment driven, Price added. LME nickel prices rose 0.7 percent to $19,745 a tonne on Tuesday.

The Goro mine produced 4,100 tonnes of nickel in the first quarter, up 41 percent on a year ago. Vale is the world’s second-biggest nickel producer, but Goro made up just 6 percent of its nickel output in the first quarter.

The mine employs high pressure technology and acids to leach nickel from abundant tropical laterite ores.

“There is an inherent risk in Goro’s type of operation,” said Gavin Mudd, a professor of environmental engineering at Monash University in Melbourne.

(Additional reporting by James Regan; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Richard Pullin)


Photo Jacquotte Samperez, LNC

Photo Jacquotte Samperez, LNC

Further update: What this article does not mention is the 150 police officers involved last weekend in the removal of barricades, which resulted in 1 police officer being shot. On Tuesday, a further 2 officers were shot and wounded and 16 people arrested. The problem seems to arise from some 100 youth that are blocking the road, throwing rocks, firing shots and burning vehicles (as late as Monday evening). The people of Mont Dore (who are locked in due to the road blocks, and to their minds, “have been taken hostage”) demonstrated yesterday, demanding more information on police plans and greater security. As for the 1,350 Goro employees, nothing is certain for the moment. Some 12 million francs (about €100,000 or AUD 147,000) a day is said to be the cost of the partial unemployment payments that are going out to employees via the CAFAT (social security) system. Job loss and part-time employment are in the air as we wait to see if Vale will reopen. Gas that is normally imported for the trucks used at Goro is stocking up and Total is trying to find a way to sell it to other clients. The knock-on effect as the plant stays closed and the one southern road is blocked is greater than just a few unhappy people. One hopes for a fast and effective resolution, before it all spirals out of hand. That being said, it feels very much like a spiral already.

If you’d like to read the latest in French, do see Les Nouvelles caledoniennes. If you have news that you’d like to share with me and readers here, do post your comments. Hoping everyone stays safe and that the situation gets resolved quickly.