01 January 2013

Classified documents about Tahiti’s Pouvanaa destroyed: historian

Radio New Zealand International

French Polynesia’s leading historian has revealed that the French authorities have destroyed archived classified documents about the controversial late pro-independence leader Pouvanaa a Oopa.

This comes nine months after Nicolas Sarkozy gave a special televised pre-election address to Tahiti, saying the files would be opened to allow for a possible re-trial.

Walter Zweifel reports:

“After a controversial trial for allegedly leading unrest, Pouvanaa a Oopa was exiled to France in 1958, but a decade later he was pardoned and he became a Senator. 

The historian tasked by the French Polynesian assembly to research his treatment, Jean-Marc Regnault, says relevant records were destroyed in recent times. He has told a local newspaper that his preliminary findings point to two plots against Pouvanaa a Oopa. 

Mr Regnault says he found that the French state viewed Pouvanaa as a communist and the local elite feared for its privileges. Today a statue in his honour is in front of the territorial assembly and a key street in Papeete has been named after him.”