• Indigenous peoples in Kanaky

    Indigenous peoples in Kanaky

    The indigenous peoples of Kanaky - New Caledonia are the Kanak peoples. Kanaky - New Caledonia is currently undergoing a decolonisation process from France leading to debates about the Kanak peoples’ right to vote, self-determination, and indigeneity.
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Kanaky - New Caledonia

Indigenous Peoples in Kanaky

The Indigenous People of Kanaky (New Caledonia) are the Kanak people. New Caledonia is currently undergoing a decolonization process in France leading to debates on the right of the Kanak people to vote, to self-determination and to indigenity.

France adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on September 13, 2007. However, the indigenous peoples of New Caledonia have not yet benefited from the full implementation of the Declaration.

New Caledonia is an archipelago in the South Pacific, in the process of decolonization from France. According to the 2014 census, 268,767 people live in New Caledonia, made up of 39% of Kanak, 27% of Europeans, mainly French, 8% of Wallisians and Futunians, and almost 15% of residents of other origins, such as Tahiti, Indonesia, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

Fighting for the right to vote, self-determination and indigeneity

There are ongoing debates about the right to vote of the Kanak peoples, self-determination and indigenism. The Kanak people have been demanding their right to independence and self-determination since 1975. Today, the independence parties, mainly the Kanaks and the anti-independence political parties, are at odds with the formation of the electoral bodies for future elections.

In relation to the 2016 electoral census, the pro-independence political groups denounced the fact that some 25,000 kanaks were not registered in a special list to be able to vote in the referendum on independence. As an indigenous people of the country, these Kanaks could not exercise their right to self-determination and independence.

Yet, in several referendums held since 2018, still about 91% of the Kanak people voted for the independence of New Caledonia (while the overall vote for independence turned out to be 43.6% in 2018, and 47% in 2019).1

In July of 2021, in a significant victory for the Kanak people, the New Caledonians elected the first Kanak and pro-indipendence president in nearly fourty years, Louis Mapau. He is a member of the party of Kanak Liberation PALIKA which within the parliament is a member of the UNI the National Union for Independence parliamentary group. It is presumed that he will push more active engagement in New Caledonias decoloization process. 2



1 - Westerman, Ashley. "New Caledonia's New Government Seen As 'Significant Turning Point' In The Pacific", NPR, 11 March 2021. 

2 - "New Caledonia elects first pro-independence Kanak president", RNZ, 8 July 2021. 

The Indigenous World 2022: Kanaky (New Caledonia)

New Caledonia is an overseas country and territory of the French Republic. Together with French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna, it is one of three French collectivities in the Pacific. New Caledonia is a member of the Groupe Fer de lance mélanésien [Melanesian Spearhead Group], an alliance of Melanesian countries comprising the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Indonesia (associate member) and the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), officially created in March 1988 in Port Vila.[1]

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