Wilson’s Word

IT’S fair to say that WW is an old skeptic and clearly that won’t change (especially the old bit). But eight new or new to Vanuatu 737s or similar to actually create a fleet of Air Van international aircraft in 11 years is an awful lot to swallow.

WW sincerely hopes he has to swallow those words and everything WW has heard about newish Air Van CEO Derek Nice is that he is a consummate airline professional, plus the type of guy just as his name suggests. Whether he can pull off something this ambitious is something else.

To see these figures after years of being used to a single-plane airline is a huge leap into the unknown and WW has to ask about financing this huge enterprise. Also it seems to make major presumptions about a massive increase in tourist traffic and WW is not sure just what that is based on at this stage. It would be wonderful for Vanuatu if our tourist numbers warranted so many additional aircraft in little more than a decade.

Air Vanuatu CEO Derek Nice making this week's announcement regarding direct flights to Melbourne
Air Vanuatu CEO Derek Nice making this week’s announcement regarding direct flights to Melbourne

The move for regular flights from Melbourne is long overdue and most welcome, given that 20 per cent of our tourist trade comes from that frequently cold southern capital. It is also likely that additional tourists will be picked up from Tasmania (even colder than Melbourne) and South Australia.

One Melbournian who has a holiday house here told WW this week that friends ask him about Vanuatu (mostly, where is it?) and ‘when you say it’s via Sydney or Brisbane their eyes glaze over, and they change the subject’.

He said this should put the wow factor back into Vanuatu, as many have young kids, and the thought of a transfer leaves them stony cold. WW agrees that this is a very valid point, but then an aviation expert weighed in with the following thought.

He said it will be interesting to see if the Melbourne route increases passenger arrivals or just dilutes the Sydney route. He said Solomon Airlines discovered that when it tried to add Sydney a couple of years back and he remembered Norfolk Air tried to expand its Australian ports, which lasted a week and the airline went broke shortly after.

WW also found this worthy of thought.

Air New Zealand planeIncreased traffic from New Zealand is a big bonus, as would be a return to a code share between Air New Zealand and Air Vanuatu. Staff, particularly pilots, will become a major component of this promising push forward.

Some Melburnians already looking for the special introductory return airfare struggled to find the $649 return fare on offer until the end of December. WW with much help from She Who Must Be Obeyed found it is there consistently, but you must get your dates right and not pick days there are no direct flights. Those other flights include a stop in Sydney.

Friends from Melbourne have previously paid at least $750 each, going via Brisbane with another airline, so the saving will be most welcome.


vanuatu policeTHAT the Vanuatu police commissioner remains on suspension since last year is an utter disgrace. WW finds it unacceptable that we have been without a police number one for four months. For everyone’s sake, the Police Commission needs to resolve this ASAP so that police have a leader and the public are confident in his leadership.

WW is not taking sides about the right or wrong of the commissioner here.  The principle is simply about resolution.

The longer it goes unresolved the more likely it will have a sequel in court and senior police have a strong history of winning large amounts against the government on past occasions.


SOME weeks ago WW highlighted that the municipal cemetery in Port Vila was close to putting up the ‘house full’ sign. The Port Vila Municipal Council Is looking for more land as an option, with cremation being another option, but one that is some way down the track.

So they are working on a plan currently for the next 10 years and the graveyard relocation may well be to the Etas Area where the council owns more than 40 hectares. Sounds like a plan. WW strongly believes that cremation is the logical long term solution.


West-Papuan-flag-SIBC-400wideWELL done to Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu and others for continuing to push the cause of West Papua as strongly as possible. WW also applauds them taking leading West Papuan activist Benny Wenda to Geneva as part of their delegation. It is good that the UN officials can hear the story from those closest to the coalface.

The Indonesian reaction was fairly typical and predictable. They are not known widely for having a sense of humour. If they had said nothing, the story would not have received the prominence it did.


WW is also most impressed with the work of Pacific super chef Robert Oliver. He has developed the Pacific Islands Food Revolution TV show, that also uses radio and social media, and it encourages Pacific Islanders to make good food choices in a bid to fight non-communicable diseases like diabetes, prevalent in Pacific countries.

Robert Oliver with HRH Princess Pilolevu Tuita. (Photo: Pacific Islands Food Revolution)
Robert Oliver with HRH Princess Pilolevu Tuita. (Photo: Pacific Islands Food Revolution)

The Food Revolution encourages Pacific Islanders to take pride in their traditional foods and go back to eating fresh, local and indigenous produce as the answer to good health.

Now 24 talented cooks from Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa, will compete in a reality TV cooking show competition hosted by Oliver, to be launched in March.

The show will see the cooks embrace their Pacific food heritage and use local produce to create traditional or new flavoured dishes, while competing to win.

Our own Voutausi Mackenzie-Reur, who has the highly successful Lapida Foods, also features on the program. WW hopes the show is shown widely in Vanuatu as its message is very important.


WITH the latest heavy rains, the potholes on the island’s transit road have become wider and deeper, with bone crunching and vehicle damaging effect. In the past week, WW has notice that these vicious holes are now encircled by painted blue lines. After success near the Sama Sama store and around Mele Maat, dare we who live north of the capital think repairs are on the drawing board… or are these lines just the work of a demented graffiti vandal.


AND that’s Wilson’s Word quill-pen-wilsons_word