Oceania - Issue 27 - Magazine | Monocle

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Dreaming tracks

Australia [LANGUAGES]

With a little bit of country and a little bit of rock’n’roll, young aboriginals are helping ­preserve their dying aboriginal tongues in the Australian outback with the help of Apple Mac music software Garageband.

A western Australian indigenous-owned media company, Ngaanyatjarra, is taking the kit to eight remote communities using part of a A$9.3m (€5.4m) campaign that’s funded by the Federal Government to keep scores of Australia’s dying languages and dialects alive.

The funds are also being used to fund two aboriginal elders from the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre in Yirrkala, a remote region of North East Arnhem Land, to help identify ceremonies, songs, families and clans that feature in old photographs and films, including one old reel from the 1930s.

Before white people arrived in Australia, there were an estimated 250 to 300 distinct ­languages and 700 dialects. However, more than 220 years later, there are only 145 left with surviving speakers, and the majority of these are at grave risk. The funding is welcomed by linguists but sadly, it could be a case of too little, too late.

Aboriginal facts: 01 Australian aboriginals are believed to have numbered one million when European colonisation began in the late 18th century.
02 Today only 2.5 per cent of the 21 million Australians are aboriginals. 03 The average life expectancy of an aboriginal is 18 years shorter than other Australians.

Stats include Australian aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

Ghost drivers


Watch out if you’re behind the wheel in Samoa. The country has decided to switch from driving on the right to driving on the left of the road to be in line with Australia and New Zealand, where so many Samoans migrate for work. But even if this happens smoothly, most drivers will not change their vehicles so they will be sitting on the wrong side.

Best buddies

Australia/NZ [TRAVEL]

Australia and New Zealand have joined forces to try to make air travel between the two countries as easy as a domestic trip. Border controls are being relaxed by, for example, allowing Australian citizens to scan their own passports on their way to New Zealand. They should, as a result of the new measures, get through security in roughly eight minutes.

The move is another step towards the two countries forming a joint economic market. They are also considering creating a joint military corps something like the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, or ANZAC, which fought under a shared banner in the First World War.

Help search

Pacific Islands [aid]

The Pacific region receives more aid per capita than any other region. To boost their chances of solving their own problems in future, 14 of them have decided to provide a laptop for each of their 1.7 million primary school children by 2015.

Pacific specifics – island facts:

01 Technology: So far the region has around 6,000 “XO” laptops (launched by Kofi Annan in 2005 as a lightweight, tough and cheap tool – at only $180/€125 – for the world’s poorest kids).
02 Education: Around half of Pacific Island children aged six to 12 don’t go to school.
03 Aid: 50 per cent of the budget of the Solomon Islands is funded by international donors.

Hard done by

Papua New Guinea

Residents of Port Moresby in Christian Papua New Guinea make do with seven days of religious holiday a year, whereas over the border in culturally mixed Indonesian West Papua, the state recognises 15.

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