• Indigenous peoples in Mā'ohi Nui (French Polynesia)

    Indigenous peoples in Mā'ohi Nui (French Polynesia)

    Mā'ohi Nui (French Polynesia) is a former colony of France. Although France has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mā'ohi Nui’s Indigenous population are struggling with issues such as recognition of the Polynesian languages, compensation for social and health consequences from French nuclear tests, and natural resource exploitation.
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Mā'ohi Nui (French Polynesia)

The Kingdom of Tahiti became a protectorate under the French colonial project in 1842. Mā'ohi Nui (French Polynesia) has been an Overseas Collectivity of the French Republic since 2004. It enjoys relative political autonomy within the French Republic through its own local institutions: the Government and Assembly of Mā'ohi Nui.[i] Mā'ohi Nui has many powers of its own that are no longer controlled by the French State, making these local institutions a key political issue for Polynesian political players.

Today, Mā'ohi Nui has a population of 283,000 (of which some 80% are Polynesians).[ii] The demographic profile for 2020 illustrates a slowdown in population growth – due to emigration and a falling birth rate, with an overall fertility rate of 1.7 children per woman – and an ageing population.[iii] Mā'ohi Nui is characterized by increasing social inequalities with, in particular, higher income inequalities than in mainland France, as noted by the French Polynesian Institute of Statistics (ISPF) and, in particular, its 2015 family budget survey, which showed that one-fifth of the Polynesian population was living below the poverty line.[iv] This situation can be explained in large part “by the very poor redistribution efforts of the Polynesian tax system”,[v] i.e. the absence of income tax. With consumer prices an average 31% higher than on mainland France,[vi] and after a decade of inflation, the end of 2022 and the start of 2023 were marked by a period of record inflation,[vii] leading to a new stage in the weakening of lower and middle-income households’ purchasing power, and thus of living conditions in general, with access to sufficient, quality food being a particular problem.

Mā'ohi Nui is also marked by a multitude of other social inequalities in comparison to mainland France. Gender-related inequalities are pronounced, with intra-family sexual violence statistically far more prevalent.[viii][ix] Mā'ohi Nui has long been characterized by its polarized political life, with the Tavini Huiraatira, an independence party led by Oscar Temaru, on the one hand, and the Tahoera'a Huiraatira, an autonomist party led by Gaston Flosse, on the other. Until 2016, the latter advocated staying within the French Republic but since then has focused on changing its autonomous status to that of an associated state.[x] In 2016, a succession crisis within Tahoera'a, following Flosse being declared ineligible to stand for public office (confirmed by the Court of Cassation in January 2022),[xi] led to the creation of a third political party, Tapura Huiraatira. This autonomist party was created in 2016 by Edouard Fritch, who was President of Mā'ohi Nui from September 2014 until April 2023.

 

[i] Every five years, the Territory's registered residents vote to elect their representatives to the Territorial Assembly. These representatives are grouped into lists that share the 57 seats in proportion to the results obtained at the polls. Once installed, the representatives vote for a President, who also holds a five-year term of office and has the ability to appoint a government divided into several ministries.

[ii]Institute of Statistics (ISPF), June 2021, Point Études et Bilans de la Polynésie française, No.1256 Bilan démographique. The last census noting “ethnic” categories dates from 1988: “Polynesians and similar” accounted for 80.58%, “Europeans and similar” 13.28% and “Asians and similar” 5.42%.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] ISPF, 2017, Budget des familles: http://www.ispf.pf/bases/enquetes-menages/budget-des-familles-2015/publications

[v] Tahiti Infos, 2 September 2019, “Les inégalités de revenus bien plus fortes au Fenua qu’en métropole”.

[vi] ISPF, November 2023, Points études et bilans de la Polynésie française, No. 1391: 1391_Comparaison_spatiale_de_prix_PF_2022_aa73dbdc08.pdf (ispf.pf)

[vii] ISPF, November 2023, Points conjoncture de la Polynésie française, No.1398: 1398_PC_Te_Aveia_2023_T2_4dfc9eab3a.pdf (ispf.pf)

[viii] Jaspard M., Brown E., Pourette D., 2004. Les violences envers les femmes dans le cadre du couple en Polynésie française, Espace, populations, sociétés, 2, pp.325-341.
In 2004, 7% had experienced at least one sexual assault before the age of 15, and 7% had experienced domestic violence in the last twelve months.

[ix] Hervouet, Lucille, “Qui suis-je pour juger? La production sociale du silence autour des violences sexuelles intrafamiliales en Polynésie française”, Terrains & Travaux 2022, pp.67-87.

[x] Tahiti Infos, 10 March 2016, “Pay associé: Gaston Flosse présente son rêve statutaire”.

[xi] “En Polynésie, Gaston Flosse définitivement condamné pour détournement de fonds publics.” Le Monde, 12 January 2022.

The Indigenous World 2021: French Polynesia

A former French colony, French Polynesia has been an Overseas Collectivity of France since 2004. It comprises 278,000 inhabitants, some 80% of whom are Polynesian,[1] and has relative political autonomy within the French Republic through its own local institutions: the Government and the Assembly of French Polynesia. The demographic profile for 2019 indicates a slowdown in population growth due to a declining birth rate and migration, particularly on the part of young men to pursue their studies in Metropolitan France, together with an aging population.[2] French Polynesia is characterized by increasing social inequality, as highlighted by the Institute of Statistics of French Polynesia (ISPF). Its surveys – particularly the 2015 family budget survey – show that income inequality is higher in French Polynesia than in Metropolitan France. This situation can be explained in large part “by the very poor redistribution efforts of the Polynesian tax system”,[3] i.e. the absence of income tax. One-fifth of the Polynesian population were living below the poverty line in 2015.[4]

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The Indigenous World 2022: French Polynesia

A former French colony, French Polynesia has been a French Overseas Collectivity since 2004. It enjoys relative political autonomy within the French Republic through its own local institutions: the Government and the Assembly of French Polynesia. French Polynesia  currently has a population of 278,000, of which some 80% are Polynesian.[1] The demographic balance for 2020 illustrates a slowdown in population growth due to emigration, a decline in the birth rate – the fertility rate for 2020 stood at 1.7 children per woman– and  an ageing population.[2] French Polynesia is characterised by increasing social inequality, as highlighted by the Institute of Statistics of French Polynesia (ISPF). Its surveys – in particular the 2015 family budget survey – show that income inequalities are higher in French Polynesia than in metropolitan France. This situation can be explained in large part “by the very poor redistribution efforts of the Polynesian tax system,” [3] i.e. the absence of income tax. One-fifth of the Polynesian population were living below the poverty line.[4]

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Indigenous World 2020: French Polynesia

A former French colony, French Polynesia has since 2004 been an Overseas French Territory (Collectivité d’Outre-mer) of 277,000 inhabitants (around 80% of whom are Polynesian)1 with relative political autonomy within the French Republic through its own local institutions: the government and the Assembly of French Polynesia. Despite the recovery of economic growth and increased tourism in the last three years, social equality has declined. Surveys conducted by the French Polynesian Statistics Institute – the 2015 Family Budget survey in particular – show that income inequality is greater in French Polynesia than in metropolitan France. This can be explained largely by the “very poor redistribution effort of the Polynesian tax system”,2 i.e. the lack of income tax. In 2015, a fifth of the Polynesian population was living below the poverty line.3

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