After the serenity of this beach, indicated by this video, I find it hard to imagine the dramatic, horrific events that unfolded on this atoll, Ouvea, a province of New Caledonia in the Coral Sea.
Agitation for independence and political representation for indigenous Melanesian Kanaks came to a head in 1988. Following murders of Kanak leaders, 27 French citizens were kidnapped. The National Union for Independence-Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front held the hostages in a cave on Ouvea for 14 days. A force of 300 soldiers formed from french military units stormed the cave. The hostages escaped in the confusion, but 19 hostage takers and two soldiers where killed.
There was an international uproar over the massacre, initiating talks between the Kanaks, French settlers and the French Government. Eventually in 1998, the agreement was a transition to independence over the following 20 years.
As a New Zealander, I’ve absorbed an understanding and sensitivity to the interaction of two cultures. There is a big remove between an indigenous and settler culture, even bigger from a government seated on the other side of the world. So during my visit to New Caledonia, I was alert for these nuances. There was one incident that impressed me.
While waiting at an Island airport, my attention was drawn to a group of pre-school children squabbling noisily in a corner. A mother paused an adult conversation, picked up the loudest and holding her on her hip, told her firmly to “Arrete”.
Giving the child a warm hug, the women resumed her earlier conversation. No anger or recriminations and the child settled in to the Mum hug.
Such calm mothering, at apparent odds with Ouvea history.
jhwordsmith Blog “New Caledonia Today”
also Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanak_people