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The Queen & the Republic of Minerva

Posted: September 22, 2016 at 8:00 pm

I have read a number of accounts dealing with the dispute between the Kingdom of Tonga and the Republic of Minerva over their conflicting claims to the Minerva Reefs, and of the Tongan Governments subsequent occupation of, and claim to, the reefs. Much of this writing has been the product of the grossly over fertile imagination of authors who have never set foot within a thousand miles of Minerva. Here are some examples of this ‘scholarship’. ‘Private Islands Discussion Forum’.

“The Tongans never took too kindly to the micro-nation of Minerva. An army of angry, armed, plus-sized Tongans ready to push the settlers into the sea should be enough to scare anyone”

‘Cabinet’. Issue 18 summer 2005

New Foundlands. George Pendle

“On 21 June 1972, the worlds heaviest monarch, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV of Tonga accompanied by members of the Tongan Defence Force, a convict work detail and a four piece brass band, set sail from his kingdom aboard the royal yacht Olovaha. On the king’s stately mind was one thought, the invasion of the Republic of Minerva”.

Out of such, are myths and legends born!

– Doug Jenkins, Bay of Islands, New Zealand –

What follows is my account of the so called ‘invasion of Minerva’. It was 39 years ago, but memories of this unique experience are still very fresh. I was there. I sailed to Minerva with King Taufa’ahau and his retinue on board the Olovaha. It was the luck of being in the right place at the right time, and it was the fortune of having an understanding boss, who when the opportunity arose for me to join the Olovaha said “go for it, and we’ll cover for you”.

The story was a big one throughout the Kingdom. On 15 June 1972 the ‘Tonga Chronicle’ published the full text of a Royal Proclamation.

PROCLAMATION His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV in council DOES HEREBY PROCLAIM:-WHEREAS the reefs known as North Minerva and South Minerva Reef have long served as fishing grounds for the Tongan people and have long been regarded as belonging to the Kingdom of Tonga has now created on these Reefs two islands known as Teleki Tokelau and Teleki Tonga; AND WHEREAS it is expedient that we should now confirm the rights of the Kingdom of Tonga to these islands; THEREFORE we do hereby AFFIRM and PROCLAIM that the islands, rocks, reefs, foreshores and waters lying within a radius of twelve miles (19.31 km) therefore are part of our Kingdom of Tonga.

It was also announced that Taufa’ahau himself, would be sailing south to the reefs to formally claim title

His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV

Prior to the proclamation, rumours had been growing for some time around Nuku’alofa of an international organization of dubious background proposing to create an artificial island on North Minerva by dredging the lagoon of South Minerva for the infill. As wild rumors began to give way to fact, it appeared that a syndicate known as the Ocean Life Research Foundation, conceived by Los Vegas real estate millionaire Michael Oliver, with considerable financial backing, and offices in London and New York, was behind the proposals to build this new micro-nation in the South West Pacific.

Their stated object was to create a libertarian society, with no taxation, no welfare, no subsidies, or any form of state intervention. It would be supported by fishing, tourism, light industry and other commercial activities. The ‘other activities’ were never specified but no doubt would include banking and the registration of ‘off shore companies’. It was envisaged by the group that the nearby Kingdom of Tonga would be happy to supply the labour for both the construction and future servicing of the new Republic of Minerva, to the mutual benefit of both states, (1)

Early in 1971 a visitor to Tonga, claiming the title of the Roving Ambassador for the Republic of Minerva, arrived in Nuku’alofa seeking an audience with the King in order to appraise him of the scheme. The audience was not granted. A senior member of the Prime Minister’s Department however did meet with the ‘Ambassador’ and was shown a documentary film produced by the Pilkington Glass Company. The film was a feasibility study for a ‘sea city’ of 30,000 people that could be constructed on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea. This was the model upon which Michael Oliver’s organization was basing its plans. Action on the reef by the ‘Republic’ was already underway. Based on legal advice that unclaimed land can be claimed if some practical use was made of it, Oliver’s organization had constructed a steel tower surmounted by a radar reflector, a useful navigation aid, on North Minerva, along with their flag. (2)

International legal experts consulted by the Tongan Government had a different interpretation of the law pertaining to unclaimed lands. According to this interpretation land could not be claimed unless it was permanently above the high tide mark. The claimants could then lay claim not only to the said land but also to all adjacent reefs. As a result of this ruling an ocean going tug and barge, with a work party of prisoners from Tolitoli Prison was dispatched to the reefs. Within a relatively short time they had constructed from coral blocks and concrete two very small islands each resplendent with a flagpole. The islands of Teleki Tokolau and Teleli Tonga were born

At this point I would like to digress for a moment. In my title I make specific mention of the Tonga Shipping Company’s vessel Olovaha. This for good reason. While surfing the net for background on Olovaha I came across an excellent web site, ‘MV Queen of the Isles’. With contributions from ex-crew and passengers this covers the life of a much loved little ship, from her launching at Bristol England in 1964, as a ferry between Penzance and the Scilly Isles as ‘Queen of the Isles’, to Tonga as an inter Island ferry called ‘Olovaha’, to New Zealand as a floating casino called ‘Gulf Explorer’, to the tourist trade of Queensland once more as ‘Queen of the Isles’. Renamed yet again ‘Western Queen’ for work in the Solomon Islands, she sadly ended her days blown ashore by cyclone Justin in 1997.

The one flaw in this account is the sparseness of information on the ships years under the flag of Tonga and no mention at all, of the roll she played in the Minerva Reef saga. This I believe must have been one of the highlights of her 33 year career and deserves to be remembered.

Olovaha sailed from Nuku’alofa at 11.30 pm on a Saturday night. We had to leave before midnight as strict Sunday observance in the kingdom forbade vessels to depart or any work to be done on the Lords Day. On board, His Royal Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, his nobles, his cabinet ministers, his royal fishermen, a platoon of solders, a police contingent, the full police brass band, Olovaha’s officers and crew, a German doctor and his wife, an American lady journalist, myself and my young Tongan companion Suliano Etu. A truly crowded little ship!

The royal entourage occupied the officers and masters quarters on the upper deck, the nobles, cabinet ministers and honorary nobles (all but one!) occupied the observation lounge below the bridge deck, police and military were accommodated in the cargo hold, the fishermen bunked in with the crew and Suliano and I camped on the after deck. On boarding I had been directed to the observation lounge and Suliano to the deck, I insisted on joining him. I preferred to be an ‘honorary commoner’. Having been told to bring our own food, we carried a back pack containing two sleeping bags, a small primus stove, some tined food and some loaves of bread. We went aft, to make camp among the mooring bollards.(3)

The flag of the Republic of Minerva

Ata Island

I slept well that first night under a canopy of brilliant stars, lulled by the rhythmic beat of ships engines and the roll of an ocean swell. I awoke from a dream of heavenly music, as from a male voice choir, opened my eyes and there on the deck before me stood a pair of very large feet in shiny black sandals. From the feet, my eye panned upwards, two brown, muscular and very hairy legs, to a black vala and ta’avala. I looked to the left and to the right, I was surrounded by them. I had awoken in a forest of hairy legs, and what’s more they were singing hymns. The owners of the legs that is. It was Sunday morning and church had convened on the largest open meeting place on board, ‘my’ after deck. Slowly, and I hope unobtrusively, I extracted my self from the sleeping bag, in which fortunately I was wearing shorts and shirt, and joined the congregation. Suliano slept on among the legs. When later I asked how he could manage to sleep through all that singing he confessed to only be pretending to sleep. He was Catholic he said, and had no intention of joining “that Methodist service”

Later that morning land appeared. A small island, very high, caped with forest and cloud, and skirted by imposing and precipitous cliffs. The island of Ata, some 100 nautical miles south of Nuku’alofa.

Here Olovaha dropped anchor on the southern side, between the pinnacles and the island. Despite the fact that it was Sunday, when it is normally prohibited, the King gave permission for fishing to commence, on the condition that all catches were to go into the royal larder. Suddenly fishing lines appeared, it seemed with every one, from noble to common sea man, all had come prepared except for Suliano and my self. The fishing was exciting but not very profitable. Most of the catch being sharks, and most of the sharks lost while hauling them up the high ships sides. While anchored off Ata a minor coincidence occurred. In 1965 six Tongan youths, in a stolen fishing boat, were shipwrecked on Ata and marooned for 13 months. They were discovered and rescued by the Australian fishing boat Just David, owned by Sydney businessman and entrepreneur, Peter Warner.(4)

Just David returned the boys, first to Nuku’alofa and then to their home islands in Ha’apai. While in Tongan waters Warner was impressed by the fishing potential and as a result established a fishing and fish processing enterprise in Nuku’alofa. He named the first vessel built for this venture Ata, for the island from which the boys had been rescued. Shortly before we were about to leave Ata for Minerva that day, a vessel made its appearance from behind the island and moved to anchor alongside us. It was Peter Warner’s long line fishing vessel Ata.

Some of the ships complement on Teleki Tokolau

Seeing the Royal Standard flying from our mast, gifts were immediately hoisted aboard for His Majesty, three large tuna and three large turtles. These were laid side by side on the deck, three of the men from Ata sat cross legged on one side, while three nobles, representing the king sat facing them across the gifts. An elaborate formal presentation then took place. Ceremonial over the fishermen returned to their boat. Both vessels retrieved their anchors and proceeded on their respective journeys, Ata, north to Nuku’alofa with her catch and Olovaha south, toward the Minervas’.

Late the following afternoon, out of what seemed an endless ocean, a line of broken water appeared on our horizon. We had reached North Minerva. Olovaha pitched and rolled heavily as we negotiated the narrow gap of rapidly shoaling water but within a few minutes every thing became still. We were in a comparative mill pond surrounded by a rolling ocean, a strange feeling. We made a turn to port, toward the deeper anchorage on the northern edge of the lagoon and there, before us lay Tel’eki Tokelau Island, much smaller than I had envisaged, surmounted by her flag pole. Near by lay the boilers and engine of one of the many wrecks that are scattered about the reef. Before sleep that night I lay wondering what the next day would bring, there were so many of us on this boat, and that Island looked so very small, there was no way that we could all fit ashore. Would Suliano and I even get the chance to land? After all we were among the least important of those on board.

Come morning and my concerns were answered. For the ceremony, the King would remain onboard (in fact he did not go ashore at all) along with the brass band. The soldiers, armed with 303 lee-enfields for firing the salute, also remained on the Olovaha. There was room for us.

As this was an important royal occasion all were dressed in their best finery. Police and military in dress uniform, ministers of religion in their robes, nobles and cabinet ministers, and Suliano, in their best valas and ta’avalas. For the occasion even I had taken shoes and socks, long trousers and a tie. The ships life boats were swung out, we scrambled aboard, and set off. Then there came a problem. On reaching the edge of the coral it was discovered that Olovaha’s boats drew to much water to be able to cross the reef, and we still had about 100 yards to go to reach our destination. It was over the side we all went in all our finery to wade ashore at times in chest deep water. What a sight we made on reaching the island.

And so the ceremony began. A member of the defense force, with hand held radio, coordinated what was taking place on the island with the activities onboard Olovaha. Hymns were sung and prayers were prayed. The proclamation was read. Police and military stood stiffly to attention. A soldier knelt before a minister of the church with the neatly folded flag on his outstretched arms for it to be blessed. A bugle sounded, and to the strains of the national anthem coming across the water from the ship, the red and white ensign of Tonga was slowly hoisted. This was followed by the salute, fired from ‘Olovaha’s guns’. Throughout all of this we all stood, dripping wet in our finery.

Olovaha at North Minerva

My feelings that day were to say the least, an unusual mixture. Was I partaking in some strange farce, played out in the middle of the ocean? In many ways the whole scene was quite Gilbertian. We could well have been the rehearsing cast for HMS Pinafore or the Pirates of Penzance. There were times when I could have laughed at the weird performance in which I was participating, and yet, for much of the ceremony I was considerably moved. I was being involved in history. I was participating in a ceremonial the likes of which had probably not occurred since Cook raised the flag in New Zealand, claiming the land for His Majesty King George III. Here I was, with King Tafu’ahau IV, raising the flag over a new land. Such an occurrence may never happen again in the history of mankind. This may seem rather an extreme hyperbole, but in fact it was just how I felt.

The following day Suliano and I left the ship and swam to the reef with fins and goggles, to explore the coral. After a time we noticed one of the ships boat’s approaching. Ashore came the whole contingent of nobles and with them a large Kava bowl. We swam to within a short distance of the island, and being inappropriately dressed to go ashore sat with just our heads above water and watched. We were privileged to witness at first hand a full noble kava ceremony. Normally, a rare sight, but even more so in such an unusual setting.

Early the next morning anchor was weighed and we left for South Minerva. It was as well that the formal ceremonies had taken place on North Minerva as the weather now began to deteriorate. After negotiating the entrance to South Minerva, we crossed the lagoon to Tele’ke Tonga. Here the island had been constructed near the remains of the Japanese fishing boat that had provided shelter to the crew and passengers of the ill fated Tongan cutter Tuaikaepau in 1962. A number of Tuaikaepau’s complement died and were buried on the reef so sadly adding a more emotive aspect to Tonga’s claims. (5) Wind and seas were rising and rain squalls scuttled across the lagoon as one of the boats was quickly lowered. A party of soldiers was ferried ashore, and the flag was raised. Returning to Olovaha the boat was hoisted aboard, the anchor retrieved and we made our way through the gap toward the open sea. The course was set for home.

Two days later Olovaha steamed into Nuku’alofa. One of the highlights of my four years in the Kingdom had come to an end. Over the years I have related this story many times. Listeners to my tale have often said that I should put it on paper, now, 39 years later, I have done just that. Some minor aspects of the occasion I have no doubt have been eroded by the mists of memory and time but basically this is a true account of what I remember of that event in Tongan history. I was there.

Foot Notes

The vessel as Queen of the Isles I. This was her appearance while operating in Tongan waters.

Olovaha as Queen of the Isles II after the refit. Note the extended boat deck, and narrower funnel.

The rest is here:

The Queen & the Republic of Minerva

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FijiTonga relations – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: September 20, 2016 at 7:18 pm

FijiTonga relations are foreign relations between Fiji and Tonga. These neighbouring countries in the South Pacific have a history of bilateral relations going back several centuries.

Though relations between the two countries had been good since they both became independent in the 1970s, they deteriorated considerably in early 2011.[1]

By the early 13th century, Eastern Fiji(Lau group) was a province of the Tongan empire. The Empire subsequently declined, but Tonga remained an influential neighbour in Fiji affairs. In 1848, Tongan Prince Maafu settled in Lakeba, establishing a new foothold in Eastern Fiji. He was accompanied by Tongan Wesleyan missionaries, who consolidated the earlier introduction of Methodism to Fiji by English Wesleyan missionaries.[2][3] Today, Methodism is the primary religion of indigenous Fijians.[4]

Maafu’s influence in Fiji expanded during the 1850s, threatening Seru Epenisa Cakobau’s attempts to establish himself as king of all Fiji. Ultimately, Maafu and Tonga’s support at the 1855 Battle of Kaba was instrumental in enabling Cakobau to cement his leadership over Fiji, temporarily consolidating the Tongan Prince’s status and role in the country. Tonga’s direct influence faded, however, after Cakobau ceded Fiji to British sovereignty in 1874.[5]

Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama received “cheers and thunderous applause” from the Tongan public when he attended a Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Tonga in October 2007; the crowd’s “enthusiastic reception” of Fiji’s leader was likened to “that accorded to a rock star”[6]Radio Australia noted that he had been “the star of this year’s meeting, for the people of Tonga”,[7] while TVNZ reported that he had been “given a hero’s welcome”.[8]

In terms of inter-governmental relations, Tonga has generally avoided pressuring Fiji’s “interim government” into holding democratic elections. However, Tongan Prime Minister Dr.Feleti Sevele has urged Bainimarama “to produce a credible roadmap to the election according to the Constitution and law of Fiji”.[9]

Tonga’s “soft”[10] approach to Fiji’s unelected government during the regional meeting in October 2007 was in line with the approach chosen by other Pacific Island nations, but contrasted with the much harder stance adopted by Australia and New Zealand.[11] The Tongan government rejected “several […] attempts by New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark to lobby for Commodore Bainimarama’s exclusion from the meeting”.[12]

In August 2008, Prime Minister of Tonga, Dr Sevele said at a Pacific Islands Forum meeting [13]

Unfortunately, the Forums relationship with the interim government of Fiji has now deteriorated from the apparent, promising situation at the Forum last year in Tonga, to one of disappointment and of an uncertain future. As Forum Leaders, we are all extremely disappointed at the interim Prime Ministers decision not to attend this Forum meeting. As Chair of last years Forum Meeting in Tonga and Chair of the last 12 months, let me place on record the fact that the commitments that Commodore Bainimarama made at the Leaders Retreat were not forced on him, as has been claimed. He agreed with and accepted the 7-point communiqu on Fiji, and so told all the Leaders present at the Retreat. Sir Michael Somare and I certainly did not pressure him into making those commitments. We, and all the Leaders, were, and are, keen on helping Fiji move forward, but Fiji has to play its due part. The interim Prime Minister has an obligation to explain in person to the Forum Leaders as to why he could not fulfill those commitments, and we were all looking forward to his doing this at this Forum in Niue. That he chose not to do this is most unfortunate and most disappointing.

In May 2009, however, Sevele questioned the purpose of Fiji’s suspension from the Forum (which had taken place on May 2), and suggested it was “pointless” to “ostracise” Fiji. TVNZ described Tonga’s position as “a crack […] in the hard line being taken against Fiji” by the Forum.[10]

In February 2011, Sevele’s successor, Lord Tuivakan, stated that Australia and New Zealand’s pressure on Fiji was counter-productive, and that the more they “bother[ed]” Bainimarama, the more likely he might be to do the opposite of what they sought. He added: “Maybe just go easy and they will come around. What you need to remember is that it is an opportunity for other countries, maybe China will step in. […] There’s a lot of other countries looking in and Fiji’s said ‘We don’t want Australia, we don’t want New Zealand, these are the people that’s going to help us.'”[14]

In December 2005, Fiji welcomed Tonga’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.[15]

In 2001, the Fijian Government banned the import of mutton flaps from Tonga.[16] The Tongan Ministry of Labour said in response on this issue that “Tongas experience with Fiji is an example of the difficulties encountered by small developing nations in protecting their interests”. The Tongan Ministry said this “illustrates the difficulty and huge onus that the multilateral trading system places on small and vulnerable developing countries, which lack the necessary resources, capital and institutional means to fully implement the WTO agreements.” [17]

In August 2007, the Fijian Government called for a review of the Fiji/Tonga Air Services Agreement to allow for increased capacity on the route from 350 to 1000 passengers in each direction.[18][19] By March 2008, a new aviation agreement had been reached. The Fijian Government said [20]

This has been factored into the agreement reached by the two states in March 2008 to increase the seat capacity from 350 to 1000 per week with no restrictions to aircraft types or frequencies and both countries had agreed to this. This new provision will certainly assist or facilitate the movement of tourist between Tonga and Fiji.

Beginning in late 2010, and escalating in early 2011, diplomatic tensions opposed Fiji and Tonga over two partially simultaneous issues. Though they are presented separately here for clarity, they were being referred to simultaneously by May 2011.

Both Fiji and Tonga lay claim to the Minerva Reefs, which lie between the two countries. Historically, the reefs are said to have lain in the fishing grounds of the people of Ono-i-Lau, in Fiji. In 1972, Tonga annexed the reefs, which had not formally been claimed by any State, but Fiji has not recognised the annexation, and has stated it considers the reefs to lie within its territory. In late 2010, Fiji responded to news that Tonga had begun construction of a lighthouse on one reef, by saying Fiji reserved the right to take any means necessary to preserve its territorial integrity.[21]

In February 2011 the Fiji government said there was “no official dispute” between the two countries on the issue, but that officials from the two sides were discussing the matter of the reefs’ ownership and usage. A Fiji government official added: “The government of Fiji reiterates its position, that as far as its concerned Minerva Reef is a reef. And as such it lies within the economic, exclusive economic zone of Fiji. And the government of Fiji reserves its right within its directory.”[22] Fiji Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Solo Mara clarified that there was no “conflict”, but merely “overlapping claims” on the countries’ maritime boundary, in the context of “claims for an extended continental shelf beyond the 200 mile Exclusive Economy Zone – as provided for under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea”. Officials from the two countries would hold discussions to determine their maritime boundary.[23]

In late May 2011, during the tension over the Tevita Mara affair (see below), “Fiji navy vessels visited Minerva and ordered New Zealand bound yachts out of the lagoon. They then destroyed navigation beacons” which had been set up by Tonga. The Tongan government issued a statement in protest.[24] Fijis Deputy Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs Sila Balawa subsequently told the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation that Tonga remained “one of Fijis closest friends”, and that, although Fiji clearly owned the reef as it was located within the countrys exclusive economic zone, Fiji hoped the disagreement would be resolved through “peaceful dialogue”.[25]

In early June, two Tongan Navy ships were sent to the Reef to replace navigational beacons destroyed by the Fijians, and to reassert Tonga’s claim to the territory. A Fijian Navy ship in the vicinity reportedly withdrew as the Tongans approached, leading New Zealand’s One News to comment that a military conflict between the two countries had narrowly been averted.[26][27] A press release from the Tongan government described Fiji’s destruction of Tongan navigational beacons as “an act of vandalism” posing “real danger to international shipping”, adding that Tonga and “the Fijian military junta” could and should resolve their territorial dispute “under International law for the settlement of disputes between civilized societies”.[28] Simultaneously The People’s Daily, citing “Fiji intelligence sources”, reported on June 13 that “three Fijian naval ships” were “on their way to Minerva Reef” to confront the two Tongan navy ships there.[29]

In May 2011, Lieutenant-Colonel Tevita Mara, a former Fiji army officer, who had just been charged with plotting an attempt to overthrow Bainimarama, fled Fiji by boat, and was picked up by a Tongan patrol boat and taken to Tonga. The Tongan authorities issued a statement saying they had picked him up after responding to a distress signal, and that in Nuku’alofa “arrangements have been made for his accommodation by the royal household office in deference to his rank”. Bainimarama issued a statement saying the Royal Tongan Navy ship had entered Fijian territorial waters without authorisation to carry out an “illegal extraction” of the wanted man; he added that his government took “strong exception to such breaches of Fiji’s sovereignty”. He announced he would issue a formal protest to Tongan Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano, and would seek Mara’s extradition back to Fiji to face charges.[30] Tui’vakano replied that Tonga’s independent judiciary would hear Fiji’s case for extradition, without interference from the Tongan government, and added that Tonga had no wish to interfere in Fiji’s domestic affairs.[31]

Akilisi Pohiva, leader of the Tongan opposition, described the entry of a Tongan Navy vessel into Fiji waters to pick up a fugitive as a clear breach of relations between the two countries, but added that it was justifiable on humanitarian grounds.[32]

On May 21, four days after the first reports on the incident, the Tongan government issued a statement saying it had received no request for Mara’s extradition, only a note from the Fijian authorities containing what it called “unsubstantiated assertions” and “a personal statement by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama”.[33] Subsequently, having acknowledged receipt of an extradition request, the Tongan government indicated “it will have to go through the proper channels for legal advice before we can proceed any further”; the authorities would not interfere with the judicial process. In early June, however, the authorities granted Mara Tongan citizenship, along with a passport.[34]

Radio Australia reported that relations between the two countries has “soured dramatically” as a result of the incident.[35]

On June 10 as Tongan Navy vessels moved to occupy the Minerva Reef, an unsigned press statement on the website of the Fiji government denounced “the presence of the Tongan Navy boats within Fijis EEZ at Minerva Reef”, the “issue of Tongan passport” to Mara and “the Tongan Governments inaction on extradition papers”, describing them as “a web of deceit, collusion and a complete lack of disregard [sic] of legal extradition processes”. Blaming Australia and New Zealand, the statement said “the Tongans as seen with their presence at the Minerva Reef will be manipulated through offerings of gifts and aid to try and turn up the ante”, adding: “As far as Fiji is concerned there is no Mara or Tonga/Fiji situation. It is a Rudd and McCully spreading their wings to save face situation”, in reference to Australian and New Zealand Foreign Affairs Ministers Kevin Rudd and Murray McCully.[36]Stuff.co.nz described the statement as an “unprecedented attack” on New Zealand, Tonga and Australia, remarking: “The statement on the website is so completely out of kilter with previous Fiji Government statements that it raises questions over who now is in control in Suva.”[37]

In late June, the Tongan government formally informed the Fiji government that Tongan law made it impossible to extradite Mara.[38]

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Minerva Reefs – Surfer’s Path

Posted: July 29, 2016 at 3:17 am

Lat: 23 deg 38S

Long: 178 deg 39W

We are sitting in the middle of the largest contrast any of us have ever experienced. There is no land in sight from horizon to horizon. In fact we had our last sight of land 3 days ago as we sailed away from Tongpatapu, the southernmost port in the kingdom on Tonga. The cabin of Khulula is filled with the sound of wavelets gently lapping against her side, juxtaposed against the muted roar of the Pacific Swell crashing on the reef around us. 3 miles in diameter, Minerva Reef is one of the most remarkable and stunningly beautiful places I have ever seen.

We are 25% of the way to New Zealand, partway through a passage that does not act kindly towards those who dawdle. We had no intention to stop at this place, but are compelled to as gales rage below us (further south). We have 780 miles to go, a mere hop skip and a jump compared to our distance traveled so far (over 6000miles), but this passage demands attention to detail weather and timing details. A daily analysis of the weather systems moving around us, and the careful positioning of our boat in relation to these systems will be the difference between a windy, stormy passage and a cruisy sunny one. Well take the latter, please!

Yesterday morning saw all four of us in the cockpit, watching the distance to Minerva field on the GPS slowly clock down. With nine miles to go, all we could see was deep blue Pacific Ocean. At seven miles to go, we could make out the mast of a boat seemingly sitting among the waves, but with no sail to be seen. At three miles to go we could make out the breakers around the reef and could see a slightly smaller mast next to the original one, also seemingly bobbing up and down on the waves with no sail up. At one mile to go we could see the turquoise center of Minerva Reef, as its associated flat water and perfect sandbank anchorage. The colour of the water was so vivid it looked like it had been Photoshopped.

Approaching a navigational hazard such as Minerva, we are reminded of a realization that we have had on multiple occasions during this voyage. We are WIMPS compared to the seafarers of old. Historically, during the days of wooden ships iron men there were no charts, no weather outlooks, and the sailor were in a boat that does not sail upwind. On many occasions we have adjusted our course in the middle of the night to avoid a reef or shoal, who to us only exists on a paper and electronic chart. We know exactly where we are, and know EXACLTY where the shoal is, as well as how large the shoal is and the best course of action to avoid it. The iron men on those wooden ships would have no idea! Spare a thought for the watch boy, sitting high up in the Crows Nest of a wooden galleon, trying to stay awake on night shift as strains his eyes searching and searching for breakers in the night. If he spots them (assuming no rain, no mist), the captain would have no idea whether it was a small reef, a 50-mile long reef (like Fakarava), or the lee shore of another continent for that matter! Had he come across Minerva Reef, and seen it in time, Captain Cook would not have known whether it was one of hundreds of atolls (like the Tuamotus) or the reality that is is just one of a pair of tiny reefs in the middle of millions of square miles of featureless Pacific Ocean. It is incredible.

We have decided that the seafarers of old were completely and utterly nuts! Here we were, glancing over the bow with trepidation, searching for a reef that we know is directly ahead, and less than 5 miles away! Our GPS gives us our position to within 3 feet, and there is no confusion as to what it what. The historical captain would maybe know his position to within 150 miles, and that is if the sun had been shining recently.

At two miles to go, everything happened at once: We were furling in our headsail (the forwardmost sail on the boat) to slow down and prepare for the transit of the reef pass. In the middle of this job there are sheets and lines (ropes) everywhere, a NZ airforce plane buzzes the atoll and starts demanding that everyone check in over the radio: This is the New Zealand Air Force, please state the name of your vessel, your intended destination, your ETA (if NZ), name of your skipper, number and names of crew, and declare any firearms or pets aboard. Just as other boats started answering, our fishing line got hit by a 30lb yellow fin Tuna WHAM! So here we are, trying to reduce sail, shoot a reef pass in the middle of nowhere, steer the boat, reel in a fantastic Tuna, and answer the call from a large aircraft doing passes just above our head demanding our attention on the VHF radio! Um, sorry for the delay, but we are a LITTLE busy here!! Needless to say, they did not hear a response back from s/v Khulula. All the other boats did check in though, I emailed NZ customs in the evening to file our report!

So, Minerva! Wow, anyone that gets a chance to visit this place should NOT miss out on it. Granted, it is a little out of the way, being 400 miles away from anything with an airport, having no dry land and all that, but IF you find yourself in a sailboat in this area, STOP, it is incredible. With no continents and associated alluvial runoff around, the water is completely absent of fines translation, CRYSTAL CLEAR! Looking over the bow of Khulula, we can see a giant sandbank all around us, 12m down. Sitting in the lagoon in flat water, watching waves explode on the reef around us, with not a scrap of land in sight is an experience none of us will ever forget. Also, as you can imagine, the reef is teeming with life such is the nature of a reef inaccessible to significant amounts of human population.

In the evening we went for a snorkel and scored a wonderful Minerva lobster. Last night we watched an amazing sunset while feasting on Yellow Fin sashimi and garlic steamed lobster tail. We are planning on leaving Minerva tomorrow morning (14th November 2007), and beeline it for NZ. It is time to take the jump. As wonderful as this place is, there are harrowing reminders in the lagoon (in the form of a couple of wrecked sailboats) of the perils of being anchored inside a submerged atoll during a storm. This ocean us unpredictable, and it is prudent to briefly enjoy the wonders of this remote place, and then move on. So, after a weather check in the early am, we begin out 780 mile passage to New Zealand and the end of the 1st year of the OceanGybe expedition. We have a HUGE amount of data to compile, and presentations to prepare, in line with our quest to continue to bring awareness to oceanic garbage.


Minerva Reefs – Surfer’s Path

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Destin Fishing Charters. Catch’em – 5th Amendment Deep Sea …

Posted: September 1, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Go Deep Sea Fishing in Destin the The Worlds Luckiest Fishing Village on Fifth Amendments Destin Charters Welcome to the Fifth Amendment Charters website, home of the best Destin fishing charters and deep sea fishing trips. We catch many saltwater fish species including, Red Snapper, Grouper, Amberjack, Tuna, Mackerel, Vermillion Snapper, Triggerfish, Cobia, Shark, Marlin, & more! The Fifth Ammendment charter boat is docked and departs from the harbor in Destin, Florida. We are family oriented and have been locally owned and operated since 1996. Experience the beauty of our emerald coast while charter fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Deep sea fishing charters are not only fun and exciting, but a great way for a family to spend the day together.

We offer a variety of Destin fishing charters and fishing trips, ranging from a 4 hour family cruises, to 48 hour, overnight fishing marathons! Our overnight fishing charter offers an awesome fishing experience for the experienced fisherman and novice alike. During 48 hour charter fishing trips we travel much farther into the Gulf of Mexico, and are able to catch more fish. Our 6-8 hour fishing charters are great for anyone interested in catching a lot of fish in a days time. On six to eight hour charter trips you might expect to catch, Red Snapper, Red Grouper, Gag Grouper, Vermillion Snapper, White Snapper (Red Porgy), Triggerfish, Amberjack, King Mackerel, and even the occasional tuna or dolphin fish (Mahi-Mahi).

We use only the best fishing equipment available. We provide fishing rods, reels, bait, and tackle. Captain Chuck has been fishing the Gulf of Mexico all his life and has been at the helm of the Fifth Amendment charter boat for 19 years! He has the necessary skill and knowledge to ensure you leave with an amazing catch. We pride ourselves on service and we strive to offer a fun filled, and memorable fishing trip. Our crew is well trained, and our captain is Coast Guard licensed and certified. We keep the boat clean, inspected, well maintained and we are Coast Guard Approved. Charter a fishing trip with us and have an adventure of a lifetime!

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Destin Fishing Charters. Catch’em – 5th Amendment Deep Sea …

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Tomorrow is Now–Futurist Jack Uldrich to Keynote the American Sportfishing Summit

Posted: October 16, 2014 at 2:40 am

San Antonio, TX (PRWEB) October 16, 2014

This year, the 2014 American Sportfishing Summit is being held October 15-17, at the Hotel Contessa in San Antonio, Texas and Jack Uldrich, renowned global futurist, and best-selling author will be a featured keynote speaker, along with political pundit Charlie Cook.

Uldrich will be delivering his talk, “The Big AHA: How to Future-Proof the Sports Fishing Industry.” As the son of John Uldrich, one of the founders of Vexilar, a sonar detection system for fish and game forecasting, Jack Uldrich grew up in a world surrounded by sportfishing. Jack’s father along with Robert Knutson, both avid hunters and fishermen, founded Vexilar Engineering Inc. in 1960. Their first product in the fishing arena was Deptherm – a unique and simple tool for finding depth and temperature. In 1965 they acquired an electronic temperature sensing device from Honeywell Inc. which also served as a depth finder. Although no longer in production, it did put Vexilar into the marine electronics sector relating to fishing and opened the door to sonar equipment which they first imported from Japan.

Jack Uldrich is the founder and Chief Unlearning Officer of The School of Unlearningan international consultancy designed to assist organizations in succeeding tomorrow by unlearning today. He speaks around the world on a variety of topics pertaining to future trends and his specialty of “unlearning.” He will address the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the sportfishing industrys trade association, on how they can begin future-proofing the industry of marine electronics, and live into their 2014 Mission of “Today was Then,Tomorrow is Now.”

As the nations recreational fishing trade association, ASA supports the interests of hundreds of businesses, agencies and organizations and is the champion for the sportfishing industry. ASAs members include sportfishing and boating manufacturers and their representatives, allied manufacturers, independent and chain outdoor retail stores, state fish and wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, federal land and water management agencies, angler advocacy groups, outdoor media groups and journalists all of whom will be audience members for Uldrich’s talk on “The Big AHA.”

“The pace and scale of tomorrows change begs the obvious question: How does a business leader prepare for a constantly changing future?” Jack Uldrich says, “The answer can be found in a simple acronym: AHA. It stands for Awareness, Humility and Action.” He goes on to say, “Leaders must become aware of the extraordinary changes taking place across todays global landscape. For example, advances in nanotechnology are leading to the creation of new materials that can out-compete copper in terms of conductivity and steel in terms of strength. And soon, some of these exotic nanomaterials will even compete on price.”

But Uldrich goes beyond simple trend forecasting and extends his keynote into helping his clients learn, or rather unlearn, in order to embrace all the new trends coming their way. “Once a leader is aware that the only ‘constant’ in todays world is change, and is humble enough to accept that unlearning will be as important as learning, in the future what is he or she to do?” In order to find out, go hear Uldrich speak, or take a look at one of his best selling books, like “Foresight 20/20” which will see its second publication with new editions in the coming weeks.

Uldrichs work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek,Forbes, The Futurist, Future Quarterly Research, the Wall Street Reporter, Leader to Leader, Management Quarterly, and hundreds of other newspapers and publications around the country. Jack is also a recurrent guest of worldwide media, having appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and National Public Radio on numerous occasions and he is featured as a guest commentator on James Woods “Futurescape.”

Parties interested in learning more about Jack Uldrich, his books, his daily blog, or his speaking availability are encouraged to visit his website. Media wishing to know more about this event or are interested in interviewing Jack can contact Amy Tomczyk at (612)343-0660.

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Tomorrow is Now–Futurist Jack Uldrich to Keynote the American Sportfishing Summit

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India: Fishing For Freedom – Video

Posted: November 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm

India: Fishing For Freedom
For most of their lives, every one of the 1200 fishermen in this village in the south of India described themselves as slaves. They were in debt to money-len…


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India: Fishing For Freedom – Video

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Monster Hunter Freedom: Village quest walkthrough Ep 4 – Video

Posted: September 26, 2013 at 11:44 am

Monster Hunter Freedom: Village quest walkthrough Ep 4
Hello everyone, welcome to my new channel and my new Monster Hunter series Today's Quests Basics: Fishing Mushroom Picking.

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Monster Hunter Freedom: Village quest walkthrough Ep 4 – Video

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Mitt Romney Tries to Prove He Is Human by Telling Sad Stories

Posted: October 7, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Ever since his post-debate turnaroundon his 47 percent comments, Mitt Romney (or a “spirited fellow claiming to be Mitt Romney”) has been employing a novel campaigning strategy: Trying to convince voters that he is human. (Ann can’t do all the work herself.) Of course, Romney’s not super experienced when it comes to this sort of thing, so his efforts have been a little awkward. Mostly, he’s been talking about dead people.

Romney spent the weekend in Florida where he debuted a new version of his stump speech containing three”revealing and personal” stories about deaths that impacted his life. The firstwas about an old friend from graduate school Bill Hulse, aquadriplegic as a result of an accident who recently attended a campaign event:

“It’s not easy for Billy to get around. Quadriplegiche can’t move, of course, his arms and his legs, and he can barely speak,” Romney said. “I reached down and I put my hand on Billy’s shoulder and I whispered into his ear, and I said ‘Billy, God bless you, I love ya.’ And he whispered right back to me and I couldn’t quite hear what he said. He tried to speak loud enough for me to hear.”

Hulse died the day after the encounter. “Its rare that you get the chance to tell someone how much you love them while you still can,” Romney added.

Next up was a tribute to a 14-year-old Mormon church member who Romneycounseled during the boy’s battle withleukemia. At one point, he asked “Brother Romney” to help him draft his will: “So I went to the hospital and got my legal pad to make it look official,” Romney recalled. “[David] said, I want my fishing rod to go to one friend, and I want my skateboard to go to another friend, and I want my rifle to go to my brother.'” For extra human appeal, he concluded the story with a Friday Night Lights reference:I thought of that wonderful slogan some years later: clear eyes, full heart, cant lose. David passed away, but Ill always remember never forget his courage, his clear eyes, full heart. He wont lose.”

Finally, he talked about meeting a woman at the Republican National Convention whose husband had been killed inAfghanistan. Anti-war protesters had picketed the funeral. When asked “What do you think of these people?” she told Romney: “Chris died for them to be able to protest.” The lesson? “This is quite a nation we live in.”

The response to this new, sad Romney seems to be mostly positive. As one woman who saw him speak in Florida told Politico,”Everyone has him on this pedestal, thinks that hes untouchable, but stories like this make him more human.” Her friend, however, found the address to be a little morbid: “There was one too many. After the second one, I thought, ‘Please, no more dead people.'”

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Mitt Romney Tries to Prove He Is Human by Telling Sad Stories

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Liberty finds economy in a post-dated Fourth

Posted: June 30, 2012 at 10:16 pm

LIBERTY — With a name like Liberty, youd expect a town to shine the fire engines for the Fourth of July parade, trot out the mayor in an Uncle Sam hat and blow the sky apart with more fireworks than they set off at Disney World.

But they wont. Not on Wednesday, anyway. This Randolph County town, with the states most patriotic name, will throw its America party on Saturday three days late.

You can get half-off on fireworks, explained Roger Davis, town manager.

The thinking goes like this: With a population of some 2,800, Liberty would have a hard time luring people away from holiday fireworks shows in Raleigh and Greensboro or even the fishing booth at nearby Randleman.

But by waiting each year until the Saturday after the Fourth, when rockets red glare sells at a 50-percent discount, Liberty can throw a wingding that lures 80 percent of the towns residents, draws curious out-of-town visitors, brings 60 vendors, 10 food trucks and an all-day lineup of bands, including Rough Cut, The Shell-Tones and Lightnin.

That can push the holiday as far back as July 11 in years when Independence Day actually falls on Saturday. But Liberty figures, correctly so far, that party-goers will save up some of their flag-waving oomph for the weekend.

Its probably the only time all year we have traffic, Davis said.

Five years ago, Liberty had no Independence Day party at all, and the holiday passed as quietly as the public library on a Tuesday afternoon. The chance to create something special hung like a piata, waiting for Liberty to swing.

Even though the town is named for an antebellum plantation, its too colorful to sit out the spectacle of July Fourth. Liberty is home to Craig Kirkman, world skeet champion. The Chamber of Commerce is housed inside a red caboose. Theres an ocean mural painted on the back of Hurricane Janes restaurant, which also boasts fake palm trees.

Even in June, flags hung from every telephone pole downtown, not to mention the tricolor bunting on the cupcake shop or the plywood Old Glory hanging in the guitar store window. Carol Walls thrift store, Awesome Finds, sells a flag-themed teddy bear. Carolyn Vickrey decorates the mannequin in her dress shop window in Betsy Ross attire.

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Liberty finds economy in a post-dated Fourth

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