French Polynesia President Visits Hawaii – “Extremely Productive Visit”

Hon. Oscar Manutahi Temaru’s weeklong Hawai‘i visit addressed key issues for French Polynesia

An official weeklong visit by His Excellency Oscar Manutahi Temaru, President of French Polynesia, concluded Friday (13 January 2012) with an official press conference at the Hawai‘i State Capitol. Also in attendance will be members of the French Polynesia delegation, Hon. Temauri Foster, Minister of Marine Resources, Hon. Kalani Teixera, Minister of Agriculture and the delegation’s official host, Hawai‘i State Senator J. Kalani English.

“Reaching out to our cousins in the Pacific is important – we share lineal and cultural bonds for hundreds, if not thousands of years,” said President Temaru, the island nation’s highest leader, “to continue to fulfill our obligation to this body of water we share, we must find ways to enhance our home and build partnerships and strengthen the current relationships.”


President Temaru and Governor Abercrombie

The South Pacific President and his delegation initiated their stay with an official visit with Hawai‘i Governor Neil Abercrombie. Both President Temaru and Governor Abercrombie agreed to initiate a memorandum of understanding between the two governments to increase synergistic partnerships and provide an ability for more French Polynesian students to study here in Hawai‘i. “Obtaining visas are difficult,” President Temaru mentioned while speaking with Hawai‘i leaders, “we must travel to Fiji – the only U.S. Embassy in our part of the Pacific – the logistics to work or study abroad is difficult.”A Division of Pae ‘Āina Communications

State of Hawai‘i Senate President Shan Tsutsui and members of the State Senate also hosted an event for the delegation where President Temaru echoed much of his sentiments shared with Governor Abercrombie.

Throughout the week the President met with key leaders from the State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Hawai‘i Convention Center and the University of Hawai‘i.

“Tahiti and Hawai‘i Island have a direct connection – a submarine communications cable from Kawaihae that extends to Tahiti among other islands in French Polynesia. We want to make sure we provide the best use and that it brings our cousins from Hawai‘i closer to us,” declared President Temaru.


President Temaru at the Capital

President Temaru and his delegation spent much of the week building relationships to assist creating more opportunities for the Country’s people and increase accessibility both for visitors and necessities alike. Meeting with executives from Hawaiian Airlines and Matson Navigation allowed the delegation to discuss lift capacities for the five archipelagos in French Polynesia and a potential port for Matson. “Currently we see visitor numbers of 170,000 individuals,” said Hiria Otto, Advisor to President Temaru, “our goal is to reach 250,000 individuals.”

President Temaru and his advisors also met with NBC Universal and Comcast executives to build French Polynesia as a viable destination for the film industry.

Officials from the Honolulu Marathon Association and Maui Marathon lent the French Polynesian delegation advice on building more support for the Tahiti Moorea Half Marathon now in its twenty-fourth year.


Mayor Arakawa and the President of French Polynesia Oscar Manutahi Temaru pose for a picture after exchanging gifts. (Photo County of Maui)

An official visit to Maui, where the delegation was greeted by Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, allowed the group to visit with the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Breadfruit Institute in Hāna. The delegation was able to see firsthand how the organization is assisting in research to develop crops to respond to critical global food security issues and potentially develop an immerging industry in French Polynesia.

While meeting with the Maui Invasive Species Committee, the delegation was able to see firsthand, how the committee addresses invasive flora on Maui, “Many of our main islands like Tahiti or Moorea have many invasive species – this meeting allowed us to discover new ways to deal with our invasive species,” said Teua Temaru, Advisor to President Temaru.

“While we may be separated by nationalities, we share the same ocean, we live on islands and our environments are similar. We must find ways to continue to work together and collectively solve problems and succeed together. Tahiti is our direct neighbor to the South, and we have a great opportunity now for closer business” said Senator English, “we have the opportunities and we must reach out and engage.”

President Temaru said “I look forward to continuing our discussions and relationships and will work efficiently to act on the opportunities created by a productive week, we shall create mutually beneficial relationships.”

Senator English ended by saying, “It was my honor to have arranged the President’s visit to Hawai‘i, and commend him and his delegation for adhering to the grueling and ambitious schedule.”

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