Several hundred young Kanaks at a youth Congress on New Caledonia's Lifou island have begun discussions on how their identity is being shaped by massive societal change.
One of the organisers of the five-day gathering says those most strongly affected are Kanaks in urban areas where the focus on the collective is being replaced by the primacy of the individual.
A study shows that tension between these two concepts has brought about more crime, alcohol and substance abuse as well as a higher incidence of suicides.
The difficulty experienced among young Kanaks is borne out in statistics, with 90 percent of inmates now being Kanaks 25 years of age and younger.
The unemployment rate among young Kanaks is nearly 40 percent, which is four times higher than among young people of European descent.