Sunday, August 14, 2011

Silence in Fiji over Death of NZ Woman Fearing Damage to Tourism


Stuff.co.nz News - 14 August 2011
by Michael Field


Fijian authorities are refusing to release details of the death of a New Zealand woman.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Wellington has confirmed it is “providing assistance to the family involved”.

But Fiji appears be keeping the death out of its censored media for fear of harming the tourist trade.

The body was recovered and the yacht made it to Suva, but the woman’s death was not reported, and the body was cremated.

Some time in the last six weeks it is believed a man and a woman were sailing on a yacht near Fiji when the woman fell overboard and drowned.

Unverified reports say the man then left the yacht moored and headed to Nadi to take a flight to Asia, but was stopped by police. The man is believed to still be in Fiji.

New Zealand police national headquarters refused to comment, while a media spokeswoman for the Fiji police said she was not familiar with any of the details.

The incident has been compared to a real-life version of the 1989 Sam Neill and Nicole Kidman movie Dead Calm, where a navy officer and his wife go sailing in the South Pacific and rescue a man from a damaged yacht, who then terrorises them.

The Fiji military regime has used its martial law powers to downplay incidents involving foreigners, fearing the damage it could do to tourism.

Last month the death of New Zealander Tony Groom, 55, a former Greymouth hotelier, was given only brief attention, while the case of American businessman Don Nicholas, who disappeared while surfing, was given little publicity. His body has still not been found.

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