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lundi 27 octobre 2014

Tetiaroa, chronicle of a foretold destruction


From Brando's Atoll to the Brando Hotel

Some kinds of stories are much more difficult to tell than others. The next one is theirs. Effectively, that's the death sentence of a magical atoll what it is.

We are talking about a place that was a royal Ma'ohi residence before  evangelization; it was the accomplished dream of a Marlon Brando; it was until the early 2010s, the natural setting of a paradise for birds, fish, plants and many other natural species of Polynesia…

The welcome at The Brando Hotel before Dick Bailey
To have stayed on the atoll a few years ago, while the reception and accommodation were still operated by Marlon Brando's family and some local employees, I can attest to  the  warmth of home, the wild beauty of the place completely preserved... But also the fact that the place was open to all, without discrimination of any kind.

Atmosphere at the heart of The Brando Hotel in 2001
Tetiaroa was, indeed, a favorite destination (because nearby) and quite affordable for the people of Tahiti and Moorea.

The end of a world
All it took was for the meeting between crooked politicians, whose interests are to define in this file, and a dubious reputed businessman, for the atoll of Tetiaroa is removed shamelessly from resorts accessible to Polynesians and to common tourists, in order to be reserved only to a few hypothetical billionaire customers...

Gaston Flosse and Dick Bailey, makers of an ecological scandal
An official vocation that seems compromised if one considers that, at the opening of The Brando Hotel in July 2014, not one of the guest stars, even so displayed in flashy press, was present. An inauguration yet announced to great fanfare and strangely disappeared from calendars without explanation... Wouldn't the offer correspond at all with the requirements of these ladies and gentlemen, or would the many issues, raised by the opposition and the very existence of this hotel, encourage the stars to keep themselves away in order to preserve their image?

The Brando Hotel for the advertising
What is certain is that by itself, the price of the outward and return flights Tahiti-Raiatea would suffice to keep out Polynesians wanting to go green: until 31 March 2015, the outward-and-return journey (2 x 20 minutes) costs you € 298.50. Thereafter, the rate will increase to € 597 per person for the same trip! Note that the flight takes 15 minutes, including takeoff and landing…
But beware: to take your ticket, you have to justify booking a night at least. And to do that, it takes a minimum of € 3,000 per night for 1 or 2 people ... This rate may increase to € 9,000! But, of course, add all meals, drinks, and various priced activities available on site.

All about for the environment“, said the developer
Yet that’s neither the worst nor the most disturbing.

The Brando Hotel and environment
The first scandal of The Brando Hotel, and the one that angered the true conservationists, from the birth of the project, is the planned destruction of a previously pristine atoll.

We will not go into the details of the already done damages, or those inevitable. To access all the practical and scientific information, we can only invite you to visit regularly and carefully "The Brando-Apocalypse Now " webpage.

Lagoon and coral reefs, destroyed by the works
However, it is essential to inform the public the following few points.

Why an association of so-called protection of the environment was created from scratch at a time when many environmentalists’ voices began to speak out against this project? An association that is, one wonders why, the only authorized by the sponsor to monitor the environmental situation on the atoll of which, and curiously, the Bureau members who move all closer to the said-promoter? This association, totally independent and objective course (!), is called "Tetiaroa Society"; its founder (who is also the secretary) is, quite by chance and without any ulterior motive, the same developer of The Brando Hotel, a certain Dick Bailey ... You said neutrality and independence!


The real picture, as for the impact of the hotel on the environment
The association, oriented environmentalist, "Tetiaroa Society" has a website which, like its Facebook page is in English and the only other available information relating to the web seems to be on this link: http://www.pacificbeachcomber.com/projects/tetiaroa/tetiaroa-society/. A link that leads to the site of Pacific Beach Comber, i.e. the promoter's company ... Therefore, it is reasonable to have very serious doubts about the independence and objectivity of this association. Like about its objectives, besides...

The Objective:  TETIAROA must be concreted
The Brando Hotel has already benefited from several billion Pacific francs, and yes: you read well billions, within the framework of the tax exemption. In other words, some public money for a private operation … But this is other shutter, just as shocking, about this affair which we shall soon open in a new article.

How The Brando Hotel respects the environment
The developer's real project is to build a series of great luxury pavilions to be sold to a few billionaires seeking paradisiac isolation. For this purpose, work has already begun. No building permit or authorization of any kind was ever received, apparently. In other words: illegally. Especially since, remember, the developer does not own these motu but is only tenant...

Again, everything is done in the most total opacity with the active complicity of Polynesian public (political) authorities and Marlon Brando's heirs. And of course at the expense of the population, really owner of these places...

What will be the appearance of these bungalows? What is their real impact on the fragile environment of the atoll in the short and long term? Why this very large real estate project doesn't appear nowhere in the service of urban planning and rural development in Polynesia? How could the works begin without a prior impact assessment, and nobody cares?


Stolen images, a few weeks before the inauguration
Yet, therein lays the real issue of all this fully dubious financial and real estate operation, conducted by and for the benefit of the Pacific Beach Comber Society.

Politics, money and the law
The issue of private property, maritime domain and the public domain is the basis of a recurring debate in French Polynesia. But things do not seem so complicated if we stick to the texts, that they are governed by international maritime law, French law or Polynesian law.

Thus, in the case of an atoll as Tetiaroa, only the land surface may be covered by private property, knowing that the line drawn by the sharp point of the highest known tide line means the beginning of the public domain. This rule under international maritime law thus allowing free access to the reefs, lagoons and beaches.

Tetiaroa, the end of a world
The proof is an annex to the long lease transferring the usufruct of the atoll to Marlon Brando, a document prepared by the service of the mortgage of Polynesia dated October 26, 1966, states in full: "Mr. Marlon Brando also recognizes formally the public domain of the reef surrounding the atoll and its inner lagoon where access by sea remain free. "

It is therefore reasonable to ask why this commitment does not apply to Tetiaroa today... That's the case though.

Fishermen banned from the public maritime domain!
Indeed, fishermen see their access and use rights, subject to the whims of the management of the hotel company! Worse: an area of the lagoon has been declared by the decree of the Council of Ministers No. 951 CM of June 26, 2014, prohibited fishing zone without consulting fishermen. But the hotel allows customers to fish and take pictures with their catch. So what right?

You said: prohibited fishing in this area?
Worse: a site dedicated to promoting tourism publishes pictures of the Brando Hotel's guests posing with a huge catch, at the very heart of this area, supposedly protected!

It must be said that monitoring of the entire atoll, private and public spheres, is ensured by security guards hired and paid by the hotel and ... Why, again, what right?

Regrettably, this is not the most important point.

Fishermen of Arue are angry
From 2009, the Union of Fishermen of Arue has striven against the private operation of the atoll of Tetiaroa. It must also be pointed out that this lagoon has always been a vital reserve for anglers fishing in the municipality. Again, the obvious collusion of   politician and promoter averted these intruders. And again, through a decree of the Council of Ministers, that is to say, without the hassle of a debate and a vote of the Assembly of French Polynesia...

 This is Order No. 952 CM of 26 June 2014. Besides the various rules governing fishing in the lagoon of Tetiaroa, this text formalizes the creation of a "committee of management of the maritime space of Tetiaroa." That’s something we can only applaud a priori. Except...


Here, fishing area strictly prohibited...
Except that the geographical reality is this: the lagoon is 86% of the total area of the atoll of Tetiaroa. Therefore, it's not understandable why the fishermen have barely three representatives on the "Management Committee of the maritime space of the atoll of Tetiaroa" for four selected by the developer himself, who is just tenant of 14% of the whole. This distribution of seats is so much aberrant  (if not downright outrageous), that the representative of the group of fishermen of Arue, Gérald Grand, resigned from the said committee, not seeing at all what his presence could well serve ...

After all these already more than unsettling elements by themselves, we have to mention the very special situation of a very dangerous character (!), threatening very seriously the safety of people and property on the atoll of Tetiaroa: I mean Teiki Pambrun...

Teiki Pambrun: fearsome pirate or lagoons' Don Quixote?
It's been three years since the aquatic fauna and flora of Tetiaroa are terrified by the presence of a sailing traditional livable dugout in the lagoon of the atoll. An obvious aggression for the environment and the future of this paradise:  you need only look at the pictures to see this!  And, above all, a considerable inconvenience to customers and staff of the hotel Brando...

The dugout of mass destruction of lagoons...…
 Let us recall that in the lease between the hotel’s developer with the heirs of Marlon Brando, only a part of the atoll is considered private. Remember also that the reef, the lagoon and the land surfaces (up to the line of the highest known tide) is in the public domain. The meaning of "public ", in our dictionary is: accessible to all ... This rule is clearly established in international maritime law as in the French law or the Polynesian legislation.


Teiki Pambrun, Tetiaroa's friendly squatter, seen by Lolo Lachiparmentier
A rule also confirmed, although restricted by the Ministerial Decree No. 952 CM of June 26, 2014 already cited. Except that now, seized by the ineligible Gaston Flosse while he was still president of the government of French Polynesia, the Court of First Instance of Papeete decided September 23, 2014, nominally, that the captain of the dugout, cited above didn't have the right to approach within 10 km from the Brando Hotel. In other words: a Polynesian citizen no longer has the right to access the public domain of Tetiaroa lagoon!

But who is this bloodthirsty pirate who terrorizes the authority and the developer, by murdering in a permitted fishing zone, at least one fish per day to feed his family? And who is his formidable crew?


When Teiki Pambrun made ​​his "Grand Houit”( Grand Huit)"
His name is Teiki Pambrun and he's sailing with his 12 years old daughter Temanu and his girlfriend, Teae... not to mention Lady, the terrifying Dalmatian!

Hopeless pacifist and advocate of the environment, he’s especially known for creating, at Moorea, the first Polynesian lagoonarium, an educational place with a wonderful underwater trail particularly popular with teachers and their students.

Teiki Pambrun, the eco-terrorist who shakes the promoter
This debonair-smiled sexagenarian is also the designer and builder of Hitiura, the beautiful traditional sailing dugout that serves as a primary residence. And about this wonderful boat, it's important to note that it was designed and constructed here with the utmost respect for environmental standards. Thus, it produces its fresh water, recycles its wastes, provides energy and, don't forget, it's floating under sail... Can we compare the environmental impact of the ship on the atoll of Tetiaroa with that of The Brando Hotel: reef destruction, deforestation of motu, coral damages and extraction, etc.? ...

Treat yourself to a dwelling dugout designed by Teiki Pambrun  
Let's be serious. But, alas, what can do our Don Quixote of lagoons face the weight of the collusion between a developer with a reputation more than doubtful and a totally corrupt political power, in the image of its leader Gaston Flosse, sentenced to repeatedly on charges of corruption and misuse of public funds ?

Let's save Tetiaroa!
At the risk of being evicted forcibly at any time by the security forces, Teiki Pambrun simply wants to witness the atrocities committed on this wonderful place that was Tetiaroa. Thus, for example, to report that the construction of villas for millionaires began without impact study or any building permit, shows in fact the purpose of this strictly estate transaction...

Lady cries over: « we must save Tetiaroa!!”
Only Teiki, Temanu, Teae and Lady can do nothing for the atoll of Tetiaroa.

But ... Imagine... that the social networks  are flooded  with messages of support, that the page of "The Brando-Apocalypse Now" amasses thousands of "likes", that  a  petition  without borders is organized and expands on the Internet, that big-hearted browsers come to cast beside Hitiura, as  the international media finally do the echo of the scandal ...

Tetiaroa How long...
So, we can dream that might be saved Tetiaroa, that no more  Polynesian atoll might suffer  further harms of profit and corruption, that the Polynesians might find their enjoyment of paradise, what requires so much work and energy to feed  simply  a family...

That depends on you.



An article of Julien Gué
Translated from French by Monak
See also:
Tetiaroa, the island of Marlon Brando, an article by Julien Gué;
The Brando Apocalypse now, the Facebook page that tells you all about what happens in Tetiaroa


Copyright Julien Gué. Ask for the author’s agreement before any reproduction of the text or the images on Internet or traditional press.


2 commentaires :

  1. How devastating Im in shock Marlon Brando would never allow such a fatale error this Must be stopped!

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  2. This is a scandal Marlon Brando would be devastated and fight against those bastards!

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