Q & A with Joe Nare Mete, Chairman of Tafea Rebuilding Summit 2015

YTS: Why a Tafea Sectoral Summit?

JNM: Right after Cyclone we wanted to organise something that would allow stakeholders and the community, business operators and every citizen who is going to rebuild their livelihood to mark the progress with something memorable. In the idea that we need to give back to the community, we decided to stage a sectoral summit where grass roots will come to discuss rebuilding Tafea in their own ways and also hear how the Government will implement its own plans after PAM.

YTS: has the response from the Government Ministries been positive?

JNM: Yes, the turnout has been positive. Since it has been a last minute thing, invitations were sent out a day before the Summit began. The idea was centred on a bottom to top approach to development plans for Tafea province but before we do that we need to add data to all our current plans. It’s like providing some flesh to a much needed structure that already exist or might need mending.

YTS: Will the outcome be different compared to a lot of high level Government meetings held in Tafea in the past?

JNM: The turn out for this Summit was positive and the majority of the Tafea Province has turned up. Some did come in late but better they are here than not turning up at all. They have been attending all the discussions and have participated a lot. The Islands do have a lot to say when we talk about the fairness in developments but it is good they participate have a say. Sometimes they say a little but the little they say turn out to be the most important information we need.

YTS: Has the Vanuatu Government provided financial support?

JNM: They have pledged support in terms of logistics cost and have committed to supporting the Tafea Province in allowing each line Ministry to come to Tanna on their own budgets and cost. The Tafea people have been very privileged to be able to have the departments and Ministries come to this summit. It’s a learning experience for a lot of people when the Government tells them how it operates. It also allows the grass root to know the departments.

YTS: What will happen to all the information collected from this summit?

JNM: The Tafea Province will use this information as its own collective data to add to all the plans we currently have in place by the National Government and all our agencies. It’s the collective ideas being brought forward by the Tafea Province and it can be said it is the grass root adding weight to our national policies especially policies that are being carried out in Tafea.

YTS: The Independence celebrations also coincide with the “Rebuilding Tafea Summit”. It must be a very busy two weeks you expecting in Tafea. What has been the public response like?

MNJ: It has been very historical because of all the people involved and after a category five Cyclone, people will say Tafea will take some time to recover and come out. In the beginning there were not a lot of participants but the Tafea people have turned up at the time most needed to make this even their own and above all make it successful. TVL has sponsored free wireless, Vanua Fire have performed here. VFF and TFA are running the sports programs to support the Independence activities and the turnout has been positive and is positive. The launching of the new RBV coins here on Tanna will also highlight our celebrations.

YTS: Lenakel Town must be very busy?

JNM: It has become the hub of entertainment and sport in Tafea Province for the last few days. You can see all the Islands mingling around and you can hear all the different languages being spoken. All the colours one would expect on Independence celebrations is visible. Tafea is celebrating after Cyclone PAM. We are telling the world we are happy to be alive.

YTS: It seems Tafea is letting the world know it has come back on its feet. TVL has also sponsored free wireless and it seems technology does have a place on Tafea.

JNM: In Isangel, people do use the internet and having free wifi during this celebration is also a bonus as for the summit we have people from Vila here and they tend to live with the internet so we want to provide them access to the internet. I also thank YTS as it you guys who negotiated the Wifi for the celebrations and thank you to YTS for being the media team leaders here for the 2015 Independence celebrations. I am also a member of YTS and YTS has a big following on Tafea.

YTS: It is a pleasure to come here. What other highlights will we expect in the next few days?

JNM: Let’s just say, we will keep everyone updated. There is more to come from Lenakel tomorrow.

YTS: Thank You Honorable Councillor Joe Nare Mete. We will continue with all the updates from all our activities tomorrow.