Landmark flag raising celebrates Vanuatu’s northern boundary

In an important moment for Vanuatu’s territorial status, the Vanuatu Government has raised the national flag on one of the most remote islands in northern Torba Province – Vet Tagde.

Vet Tagde is a stone island located north east of Ureparapara Island in Torba Province.

At the flag raising ceremony on Sunday, the Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Johnny Koanapo, said while Vanuatu is celebrating its 40 years of Independence, it must also recognise its territorial boundaries.

He says small islands such as Vet Tagde are highly significant in marking out Vanuatu’s borders.

The Minister says a country’s territorial boundaries are critical and are an area where Vanuatu can exercise its administrative powers as a sovereign nation.

“For us, after 40 years, we have managed to finalise our boundary in the North. Today we are here to show to the world that yes this is our northern landmark and we are able to achieve this because we have worked together from North to South,” Minister Koanapo said.

He says in 2016, the Vanuatu Government signed a landmark Maritime Boundary Treaty with the Solomon Islands Government to finalise Vanuatu’s northern boundary meaning the country can now celebrate this achievement during the 40 years’ of Independence Anniversary.

“However, after 40 years only half of Vanuatu’s boundaries are confirmed but what about the other half, will that take another 40 years again,” he asked.

Minister Koanapo says with Vanuatu celebrating its 40 years of Independence this year, it is time for the people to sit down and reminisce on the struggle for Independence in 1980 when Vanuatu ended the Condominium Government of Britain and France.

“I ask everyone to work together to mark the boundaries of Vanuatu that are not yet landmarked,” the Minister said at the flag raising.

“It is a way of us coming together to voice our intention to define our territorial boundaries in the other half of the country, in the South.

“This [flag raising] is an historical moment because it is the first time for a state minister to come to this uninhabited island – Vet Tagde.”

The Anglican Church Head of Diocese for Banks and Torres, Bishop Patterson Worek, dedicated the national flag of Vanuatu with a short church service on the small island.

A police officer Corporal Hilton Sur from Torba Province raised the flag.

Minister Koanapo planted a coconut tree to commemorate the Government’s visit to Vet Tagde and to confirm the island is part of Vanuatu.

The historical visit, echoed a flag raising ceremony on Hunter Island in Vanuatu’s South in 1983.

On that occasion, the late first Prime Minister, Father Walter Lini, sent his representatives down to Hunter Island on the British ship Euphrosyne II.

They erected a plaque and raised the Vanuatu flag on Hunter Island to show the world that Vanuatu’s two most southern islands belonged to Vanuatu.

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