New Caledonia is a French territory, located in the Pacific Ocean close to Australia and New Zealand. It is composed of lots of islands: the main island is Grande Terre use to call “The pebble”, the loyalty Islands: Ouvéa, Lifou, Marée and Tiga, and the isle of Pins. Nouméa is the capital.
It is very important to me to talk about New Caledonia because my father comes from this country. Their history, their diversity and their culture are the strengths of this Island.
James Cook is the first explorer to discover this territory, it is himself who baptized it New Caledonia, in reference to the Caledonia of Scotland, country of origin of his father. It’s in consequence a French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville in 1827 who knew to locate the island on the map and put the French flag. New Caledonia then became a French colony.
The Kanak people (indigenes) have always been a people fighting against colonization. First in the revolt in 1878, then in 1917 during the First World War and finally a civil war broke out from 1984 to 1989. The independentists are demanding independence from the French government. Following a hostage-taking, it was only on 26 June 1988 that France signed the Matignon agreements which explain that the Caledonians vote in a referendum for or against the independence of New Caledonia in 10 years, That is to say in 2018. It should be noted that France doesn’t want to withdraw from New Caledonia for financial reasons. New Caledonia is the third largest producer of nickel, also known as “green-gold”. This mineral is used in metallurgy, building or energy. So, the future of New Caledonia is very undetermined. However, they already have their own flag.
Due to its history, the New Caledonia is very diversified. First by its population, very influenced by the colonization with Europeans, and by the Maghreb with the bagnes. We also observe influences from the Asian continent with Vietnamese, Indonesians and finally many Walisians. Most of immigrants come to work for mining company. But also very diverse in languages. Everyone must speak French, at school. The education is only French, but there are more than 157 dialects on all the islands. For example, my grand mother is born in Lifou (an island), and my grand father is born in Canala, on the mountain in Grande Terre. My father speaks Drehu and Xaracuu. Then, by its landscapes. The New Caledonia has the largest lagoons in the world with 24,000km2. On the Grande Terre, we can see a dense tropical forest with an important mangrove and on the west coasts a forest as dry as savanna. For the islands, it is very different. For example, the island of pines is an island with very few dwellings and is covered with pines. For me, this island is the most beautiful of all, one is lost in the middle of nowhere and it is a total change of scenery. The Japanese call it “the gates of paradise”. This is often a destination for the honeymoon.
Nothing is stronger than culture and traditions. There is a customary senate in New Caledonia that specializes in protecting the traditions and customs of the country. The first thing to know is that kanaks have clans and therefore a territory. Clans exist all over New Caledonia on Grande Terre, in the mountains, on the coasts and in the islands. We all belong to a clan. The clan being the surname of the person. For example, I belong to the Karembeu clan. In each clan, there is a chief, always the oldest brother. Secondly, we believe in spirits, especially the spirits of our ancestors, and the devils. It should be noted that some villages are still remote and do not accept foreigners. Never venture into territories without being invited or accompanied by a kanak. In Kanak philosophy and believes any space and area belong to the spirits. Third, when you arrive at someone’s house, you must always lower your head when you pass the door to be respectful. Then make a “traditional gesture”, that means you have to give something to the owners enveloped in a “manou” (special fabric). Once the gesture is accomplished, the person who receives must make a speech of welcome and thanks. It’s always a very solemn moment. Once the speech is finished, everyone should say “Oleti”, which means thank you.
Finally, I can tell you about kanak culture is very beautiful culture and try to preserve their oral traditions and their environment because they live close to nature. For me, unfortunately, Kanaks have an oral culture that is passed down from generation to generation. With the arrival of the Internet and the democratization of higher education, I scare this culture tends to be lost.
I have so many things to add but I hope that with this article you know better New Caledonia and what you can expect there.