Category Archives: Oceania

Rugby in Oceania

Papua New Guinea will host the 2011 Oceania Cup. The Oceania Cup is an international rugby tournament among the island nations of Oceania. The participants this year will be American Samoa, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Papua New Guinea are the reigning champions, though the tournament has not been held since 2009.

Rugby has become a major sport in Oceania, brought over by British colonists in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many of the participants are still colonies or protectorates of the British, but even those that are independent or are colonies or protectorates of other nations have picked up the game of rugby. The sport fits in well with the tribal, warrior mentality common to the histories of many of these regions. In fact, many Oceanic teams perform a ritual haka or war dance before each game. These are always performed facing the other team and the custom itself if rooted in war. Prior to battle, each army would muster in formation and perform their tribe’s haka as a way to both psyche themselves up and to intimidate their opponents. The most famous of these modern hakas is that of the New Zealand national team, the All Blacks. There is a fantastic video of it here, complete with subtitles and translations as the chant is done in the traditional Maori language.

If you’re interested in learning more about the sport of rugby, there’s a pretty straight-forward explanation available here. If you’re interested in going a little bit deeper, visit the International Rugby Board’s website for the complete rules and regulations of the sport.

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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Oceania, Sports


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Australia’s Green Issue

Julia Gillard is Prime Minister of Australia. She took over power when her predecessor, Kevin Rudd stepped aside. Ms. Gillard belongs to the Labour Party in Australia, but had to strike a political deal with the Green Party in order to form a coalition government following the last national election. Perhaps this union has led to her government’s green tint. Ms. Gillard unveiled a plan to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions 5% by the year 2020. It is part of a more comprehensive plan with the aim of reducing human impact on the environment.

There are just two major problems.

First, coal is big business in Australia. And Australia has seen the highest growth rate of any OECD country over the past year or so. Not wanting to hamper economic growth by placing carbon taxes on coal and other mining companies; companies that are largely responsible for Australia’s economic growth, Ms. Gillard has unveiled a plan to purchase carbon offsets from other countries around the world. This has angered many Australians. The plan is seen as nothing more than subsidizing industries that emit the most greenhouse gasses by sending money overseas.

Second, there is a disconnect with the message Ms. Gillard is trying to put forth. She and her government are increasingly unpopular with approval ratings hovering in the 20%-30% range, and yet the Green voters, those who helped her to power in the first place, do not associate her or her government with the effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

For a brief rundown of the story from a local perspective, here’s a column about it in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Oceania


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