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Pacific News Minute: French Polynesia Nixes Utopian Floating Island Plan

Remi Jouan
Wikimedia Commons

A year ago, the government of French Polynesia signed an agreement to build a futuristic floating city off the coast of Tahiti, with construction of a pilot project to begin later this year. Now, it looks as if the deal is dead. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

The dream of a tax-free utopia in a South Sea Paradise appears to have floundered on the rocky shoals of local politics.

A company called Blue Frontiers proposed a floating island big enough for a dozen buildings. A hotel, restaurants, homes and offices designed for a few dozen residents. If it worked, the pilot project would become the nucleus of a floating city.

To attract visionaries and entrepreneurs, French Polynesia would create a special tax-free zone. Locals would get jobs and on-shore investment.

In December, Marc Collins of Blue Frontiers told RNZ Pacific that he expected the territorial assembly to approve the regulatory framework right after new years’, which would allow engineering and fund raising to get underway as soon as this month.

“We feel we’ve convinced the government and a lot of the population there’s a real opportunity to work together to improve the lagoon.”

Credit ArvidO / Pixabay
Tahiti's Government House in Papeete

Collins said four sites were under consideration, but once word spread that Blue Frontiers had settled on Atimaono Lagoon, opposition to the project spread quickly.

Perhaps with an eye toward territorial elections coming up in April, President Edouard Fritch told a public meeting last week that there would be no floating islands in Atimaono Lagoon. Then this week, the government declared the agreement signed last year void. It was never a legal document in the first place, the statement said, and anyway, it expired at the end of 2017. 

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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