A member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation
, the Maohi are the original residents of what is now known as French Polynesia
. This territory includes Tahiti
and 117 other islands. The Maohi form the majority (70%) of the region's 190,000 inhabitants. They are thought to be related to the Maori
of New Zealand
. Arriving on the islands 2,300 years ago, their culture developed without much outside interference until the 19th century.
In 1842 France seized control of Tahiti
from Queen Pomare IV, promising to bring "peace and civilisation" to the islands. In 1880, a colony
was established and the islands have been a French possession ever since.
won independence from France in 1960, French nuclear testing
was moved to the Pacific. In 1963 the construction of the Centre d’Experimentation du Pacifique (CEP) was under way. In 1966 the first of 180 nuclear tests
Nuclear testing proved to be the penultimate contentious issue for the Maohi people in the latter half of the 20th century. Rising cancer
rates and fears of environmental disaster
highlighted the unfair nature of French rule in French Polynesia
After a three year moratorium
, Jacques Chirac
ordered testing to resume in 1995. Luckily, France signed the Treaty of Rarotonga
in 1996, in which France promised to permanently discontinue nuclear testing and make the Pacific a nuclear-free zone
Nonetheless there are significant outstanding obstacles to Maohi self-determination. French Polynesia relies on aid from France for its economy, though most of the funds go into French colonial hands. The Maohi haven't been able to kickstart their own economy due to a policy of reliance which furthers French interests in the region.
Today the Maohi continue their struggle for self-determination