20 Aug 2008

Forum leaders arrive in Niue for annual meeting

10:48 am on 20 August 2008

There was a rare occurrence for Niue last night as aircraft backed up above Hanan International Airport with three planes arriving in quick succession to deliver 12 Pacific leaders and more equipment for the Pacific Islands Forum summit starting today.

Several hundred Niueans were there to greet the visitors along with a large group of journalists, including Radio New Zealand International's Don Wiseman.

"A traditional Niuean war dance was performed twice last night as the leaders arrived. More Niue culture will be at the forefront of the official opening of the summit this afternoon. The Pacific's smallest country wants to show the resilience of Niueans and draw attention to burning issues such as climate change. But the summit is likely to be dominated by the growing rift, with the Fiji leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, boycottin the event and threatening to pull out of the agency. Over the next two days the region's leaders will need to work out how to maintain the viability of the agency, which will require keeing Fiji in the Forum family."