• Short Summary

    In the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific the Independence movement is gaining considerable support, particularly among the Melanesian section of the population.

  • Description

    GV: Hills of Teo in New Caledonia. (2 shots)

    GV AND SVs: people in street in Noumea. (2 shots)

    SV INTERIOR: Wallis Island girl dancing.

    SV AND CU: people seated at tables watching floor show (2 shots)

    SVs: still black and white photographs of a recent demonstration. (4 shots)

    SV INTERIOR: Former President of the New Caledonia Territorial Assembly Mr Jan Celene Uregei speaking in Noumea with correspondent Gary Scully translating into English.

    SV EXTERIOR: boats in harbour.

    SV: congregation outside church. (3 shots)

    SCULLY:" One reason is the French owned Nickle, Le Nickle, the world's second largest deposit. The great gorges in the hills of Teo in the north bear mute evidence of the wealth being torn from the ground. Sixteen millions tons have been taken from this one site, and it's only one of seven on the island. Nickle more than tourism, more than anything, is responsible for the affluence of Noumea the capital. It represents more than 90 per cent of New Caledonia's income and point six percent of the total exports of France. Important enough for the French to want to keep. A second major reason is the population balance. The French comprise 38 per cent of the population. In aggressively French Noumea it's 80 per cent.

    The French presence very nearly balances that of the original Melanesians, who still have a slight majority with 41 per cent. The rest, a mixture of races Indonesian.

    These are Wallis Islanders. Pro-French. Catholic, conservative, their migration to New Caledonia has built their slice of the population to seven percent. Their numbers are increasing by eight percent a year and at this rate they'll outnumber the local Melanesians within 20 years. In New Caledonia the Melanesians have full French citizenship...to the French mind it's a privilege for them to be citizens of France. So much so that Melanesian's most vocal in the independence movement have been described by the administration as 'extremists and secessionists'. This was one recent demonstration for independence...a peaceful demonstration in Noumea, broken up by police wielding truncheons.

    The former President of the New Caledonia Territorial Assembly, Mr Jan Celene Uregei leading the demonstration was hit by a police truncheon and injured. We spoke to him in Noumea through an interpreter. The real reason that we want independence, he said, is that we feel ourselves absent in our own country-we're not represented. We feel that we don not want to integrate ourselves in society that's not our own society. The French government at the moment is pursuing three policies. Policies of segregation, of oppression and provocation."

    This kind of affluence will be hard for the resident French to give up. There's real concern here at the agreement to give the neighbouring New Hebrides a referendum for independence in 1980.

    Some fear the New Hebrides might then become a base for anti-French agitation directed at the French Pacific territories, specifically New Caledonia. Gary Scully reporting."

    Initials RH/0110


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: In the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific the Independence movement is gaining considerable support, particularly among the Melanesian section of the population. In December 1976 a new statute for the territory increased the size of the Council of Government, and gave it responsibility for certain internal affairs. But this is not enough to satisfy many people. They want complete independence, but Gary Scully of the Australian Broadcasting Commission says this is unlikely to happen. And he explains why.

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    Media URN:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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