French Polynesia offers cyclone shelter idea to Pacific
French Polynesia says its purpose built cyclone shelters could be used in other parts of the Pacific
French Polynesia says its purpose built cyclone shelters could be used in other parts of the Pacific.
An adviser on international, European and Pacific affairs to the French Polynesian government Manuel Terai says the shelters used on the territory's lower atolls could be replicated elsewhere.
He was at the recent "In the Eye of the Storm" conference on climate change at Victoria University in New Zealand and spoke to Sally Round.
MANUEL TERAI: I have already been pondering on what should be done and we have already built shelters, housing for the population on the low atolls. We feel that the next step that we would like to offer or show our Polynesian cousins is that we could eventually, maybe, bring the same technique or the same building to their islands.
SALLY ROUND: Just describe the buildings for me?
MT: Oh. It is a high rise on stilts, say four metres high. Of course it is a proper building, built on concrete stilts. So when there is a cyclone or whatever, a high rise, the people can be sheltered in the building where they would have sufficient water and foodstuffs to live for say, three or four days, before there is a rescue. That is one way to protect the population from the immediate threat from the rising of the sea. Now you know that naturally the sea or the ocean always rebuilds itself. We cannot really touch the ocean too much, because when you put up walls that's no good. The ocean will just break it. We notice that. So I think these houses, these shelters can be an answer. It is not the answer, but it is one part of the answer.
SR: And what about moving your population at all?
MT: They don't want to move. They have a way of living. They are happy where they are. They can go fishing, you know, you don't want to change their life pattern. It would cause social problems.
SR: What about receiving refugees, climate refugees from other nations in the region?
MT: We do not recognise the word "refugees" - it is not a nice word. It is not a matter of refugees - they are victims of what has been happening. I don't think it is a good idea to move them to New Zealand or Australia, because there is too much of a difference in the way of living. But that is my point of view. I think the idea that was proposed by Fiji to offer them a proper atoll, an island, to live on would be the most suitable option. They would feel more at home because of the same environment and the ocean around it.
SR: You seem to be in a more protected area in the Pacific, would you be welcoming of other people in the region who are less fortunate.
MT: The subject has been touched upon but there has not been any decision as such because that would be a political decision to be taken that has not been decided yet. But we could meditate on it. We need to consult with each other, with the other countries, and as a matter of fact we are meeting with them some time in June, the Polynesian Leaders' Group, and we will no doubt touch on this subject.
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