The 44th Pacific Islands Forum has been opened in the style you might expect in the Pacific - with colour, song, dance and flair, and also an hour late.
Prime Minister John Key and the leaders of the 14 other members arrived at the opening ceremony yesterday on Marshall Islands atoll Majuro in matching white Mazdas, reportedly courtesy of the Korean Government, and wearing matching orange Hawaiian shirts in a forum tradition. A planned entrance on outrigger canoes was cancelled due to rough seas.
The leaders strode along woven mats, through floral arches and between young Marshallese women draped in their flag and carrying those of the other forum participants.
They were also flanked by traditional grass huts and solar-powered lights, set up for the opening in a nod to the efforts of the Marshall Islands which wants all its houses and public buildings solar-powered by the end of the year.
More than a thousand Marshallese gathered to watch the dignitaries arrive and peered through the fence as the official proceedings were carried out and the national anthem sung.
With delegates seated in the forecourt of the Marshall Islands' Parliament and leaders in tables overlooking them, they were blessed then treated to a traditional island dance. The jobwa dance is so sacred it can be carried out only with the express permission of the high chief.
After his arrival yesterday afternoon, Mr Key met the prime ministers of Samoa and Tuvalu.
Today will see the formal session of the forum, the official photograph and a special meeting on the Pacific Plan Review.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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