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PIANGO Regional Meeting Report 1991


Opening Ceremony

Ava Ceremony

A traditional Ava Ceremony was conducted by the American Samoan National Council of Churches to officially open the PIANGO Regional Meeting and welcome NGO delegates to American Samoa.

Keynote Address

Based upon her experience of more than 30 years working in the fiels, Fetaui Mata'afa shared with delegates her insights regarding the important role of Non-Government Organisations (NGOs).

The following is a summary of some of the major issues raised in her address.

NGOS play an important role in cutting across traditional political groupings and working with people from diverse backgrounds. They emerge out of a need that governments cannot, or will not, provide.

NGOs are in a strong position to critically analyse the work being undertaken by their governments and to remind them of their duty to the people. Through them opportunities are provided for people to participate in the development of their own nation.

NGOs have many strengths, including:

  • flexibility
  • the ability to respond quickly
  • the ability to negotiate with both governments and communities
  • they provide good training grounds for people who are potential future leaders
  • they are people-oriented

But NGOs have problems, including:

  • leaders can stay too long in office
  • internal quarrelling and splits
  • differences between paid staff and volunteers
  • preoccupation with fundraising
  • initial enthusiasm and spirit can be difficult to maintain
  • they can get caught up in bureaucratic jargon

Fetaui Mata'afa reminded the meeting that in the process of establishing a regional NGO-network in the Pacific, it is important to continue the work being done at a national level, and encourage the development of national NGO coordination.

In concluding, she quoted the words of Robert Louis Stevenson,"Give us courage, gaiety, and a quiet mind."

These three qualities she wished for participants in making their decisions during the next few days.

Recommendation: That PIANGO be modelled after the parable of the Good Samaritan.


On behalf of the NGO delegates, Salamo Fulivai, a member of the PIANGO Interim Steering Committee, thanked Her Excellency Laulu Fetaui Mata'afa for her encouraging words, saying that her wisdom and experience provide a challenge to all assembled in the work which lies ahead.

She added that during the past five years, the Interim Steering Committee had endeavoured to remain outward-looking, and ensure that an idea, originally forged by two colonial powers, was firmly in the control of the Pacific Island people.

She closed adding:

"If you plan for ten years, you sew rice
If you plan for 100 years, you plant trees
If you are concerned about eternity, you plant in the hearts of the people"

Session 1: Welcome and Introductions

Abraham Baeanisia, Chairperson of the PIANGO Steering Committee, welcomed everyone to this important NGO gathering.

Members of the Interim Steering Committee were invited to introduce themselves, and the Administration Team, Interpreters and Technicians were identified.

NGO delegates were then asked to introduce themselves. Finally, the three members of the Resource Team spoke briefly of their experience and involvement in conducting the 1990-91 PIANGO program of workshops and meetings.


Apologies were received from: Christane Togna and Marie-Andree Cottin from the National Council of Melanesian Women in Kanaky; Inoke Faletau of the Commonwealth Foundation; Lopeti Senituli of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific; and the Forum Secretariat.

Official Observers

The meeting was informed that several Official Observers would be joining the meeting on Day Three, including:Mattew Kahane, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative; Falanikia Westerland, Australian International Development Assistance Bureau (AIDAB); Wendy Poussard, Pacific Director, CUSO; and Helene Court, South Pacific Commission (SPC).

Funding Agencies

Abraham Baeanisia publicliy thanked the following organisations for their support in conducting the meeting: UNDP which provided substantial financial support both for the meeting and its follow-up; the Commonwealth Foundation which funded the costs of delegate from Commonwealth countries; and the New Zealand Government which provided assistance for the meeting preparation.

In addition, thanks were given to SPC, the American Samoan Government and American Samoan Community Service Organisations for thier generous support in providing equipment and services at a greatly reduced cost.

Session 2: Purpose of the Meeting

Abraham Baeanisia briefly summarised the history of PIANGO which had led to this meeting.

He then asked Ian Yates, one of the members of the Resource Team, to outline the meeting purpose and process

Ian stated that the primary reason for holding the present meeting was to decide wether or not to establish an NGO network in the Pacific region.

He went on to say that the Interim Steering Committee had now comleted its task, which was to arrange for the meeting to take place. He informed delegates that, since their mandate had now finished, the Resource Team proposed that Abraham Baenisia chair the current meeting in the absence of an elected Committee. This was accepted.

Overview of the Meeting Process

Ian briefly outlined the work which had already been undertaken during the Sub-regional and National Management and Orgainisational Development workshops, conducted during 1990.

He indicated that some of the delegates at the present meeting had been involved in this process, while others had not. He went on to say that it had been the feeling of those who had attended the workshops, that a regional NGO network should be established.

Ian stressed that it was now up to the delegates to look at what they wanted to happen within the region, and to decide wether or not a regional NGO network would facilitate this.

He told the meeting that it would be necessary to identify their mission and goals and to look at what the activities and priorities of a regional NGO network would be. If, then, it is decided to establish PIANGO, there would be a need to make decisions regarding what sort of structure the network should have, the compostition of the Coordinating Committee, the setting up of a Secretariat etc.

Deciding What To Do - The Process

  1. Common Vision - Establish parameters
  2. Needs - Identify and prioritise
  3. Mission - Clarify and formulate
  4. Goals - Identify what we should actually do to acheive each goal and fulfill priority needs.
  5. Activities and Priorities - Identify what we should actually do to acheive each goal and fulfil the priority needs.
  6. Structure - The way in which we organise ourselves in order to achieve the above.

Session 3: Needs and Issues

In discussing wether or not a regional NGO network should be established, delegates were asked wether to work in small groups to identify the major needs currently confronting Pacific Island NGOs. Before doing this they were reminded of the things which NGOs do well, including:

  • providing service, commitment and comfort
  • supplementing the work of Government
  • acting as a conscience of the people
  • taking action: doing things better, doing better things, and doing little things

Delegates were then divided into small working groups to discuss their needs.

Summary of Needs

The following list provides a summary of the identified needs.


  • Facilitate networking
  • Establish a clearing house for resources and information
  • Provide education and training
  • Complement and supplement government initiatives
  • Improve social conditions for our communities
  • Protect the environment
  • Promote social justice and peace
  • Provide a focus on issues affecting women
  • Promote a Pacific identity
  • Revive and promote indigenous culture
  • Confront racism
  • Protect the rights of indigenous people including landrights.
  • Promote unity within the Pacific and for Pacific NGOs.


  • Representation


  • Access to resources
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Technical Assistance
  • Support and training of local personnel

Summary of Issues

During their discussions, delagates listed some of the issues which will need to be addressed should it be decided to form a regional NGO network. Points which were raised include:

  • What will be the relationship between National Liaison Units and PIANGO?
  • What will be the responsibilities and obligations of national NGO coordinating bodies which will join PIANGO?
  • Will there be "strings" attached to membership of PIANGO?
  • What will be the capacity of PIANGO to intervene in national issues?
  • Is it a little premature to establish PIANGO? Some countries have not yet set national NGO coordinating bodies.
  • Do we want national NGO coordinating bodies to become politically powerful?
  • Which NGOs should be affiliated with NLUs?
  • What will be the relationship between PIANGO and other regional and international bodies?
  • Existing institutions should be respected and utilised where appropriate.
  • What is the agenda of donors re:PIANGO?

The above issues were discussed further during the following days, particularily during the preparation of the draft constitution for PIANGO.

Session 4: PIANGO - Mission and Goals

Reg Sanday, a member of the Resource Team, introduced this session in which delegates were asked to identify their mission as Pacific Island NGOs. The following list summarizes the major points raised by delegates regarding their mission as Pacific Island NGOs. This list formed the basis for later discussion about what should be included in the Mission Statement of a regional NGO network.

Summary of the Key Elements of a Mission Statement

  • Promote and strengthen collaboration between NGOs in the Pacific
  • Be an umbrella for NGOs
  • Act as a unified Pacific voice, providing unity of purpose and action
  • Have a global vision
  • Promote "TOTAL" development
  • Act as a role model of action/leadership
  • Express values and standards
  • Provided tools and resources
  • Identify, address and resolve the needs of the Pacific Island NGOs
  • Provide assistance in resolving differences between sub-regions
  • Embody the principle of equality of responsibilities and benefits
  • Resolve social, economic, and political issues
  • Assist people to have the capacity to resolve problems
  • Means to "help thy neighbour"
  • Strengthen culture and identity
  • Respect economic, cultural, and ethnic identity
  • Promote liason between community and government

Summary of Goals

  • Facilitate NGO networking within
    1. countries
    2. the region
  • Act as a collective voice on major issues
  • Widen access to information and expertise
  • Help NGOs to better understand their roles and fulfil their function
  • Promote a regional Pacific identity and culture
  • Be a Pacific conscience
  • Generate resource/pool and guidelines for new generations
  • Monitor and analyse directions of development, aid etc.
  • Help people/NGOs look at very different ways of thinking about issues/resources etc., and ways of responding
  • Increase the role played by women and youth in development
  • Co-operate with others (eg. churches) to tackle social problems

OVERALL: Promote Pacific ways of seeing/solving.

In Principle Decision To Form PIANGO

Following the three sessions on Needs, Mission and Goals, it was agreed that there existed a high degree of consistency in what NGOs from different part of the Pacific were wanting to do.

At this point it became clear that the best way to achieve their objectives was for NGOs to work together in a coordinated manner. There was a general belief that the best way to do this was to establish a regional NGO body.

Session 5: Activities and Priorities

Summary of Priorities and Activities

PRIORITY 1 Facilitate Networking

  • Prepare a constitution for PIANGO
  • Legally establish PIANGO
  • Appoint Staff
  • Set up Headquarters
  • Conduct specialized training on networking at local and regional levels
  • Encourage the formation of NLUs
  • Conduct exchange visits for NGOs
  • Conduct a fact-finding mission
  • Produce an NGO newsletter
  • Produce a directory of NGOs
  • Share information at all levels
  • Produce a "Who's Who" of NGOs and Governments

PRIORITY 2 Act as a collective voice

  • Participate in other international conferences eg. UN, NGO, etc.
  • Produce a newsletter
  • Be represented at regional government forums and other appropriate bodies
  • Develop an information bank eg. nuclear waste disposal, human rights
  • Make official statements on behalf of NGOs
  • Identify regional issues
  • Establish the parameters in which PIANGO can act as a collective voice in the Pacific
  • Establish PIANGO's mandate
  • Conduct public campaigns
  • Monitor and follow up

PRIORITY 3 Widen access to information and expertise

  • Disseminate information
  • Network

PRIORITY 4 Help NGOs better understand roles and fulfil functions

  • Consultation with NGOs
  • Network and disseminate information
  • Conduct short term training programs eg. management skills, organisational structure etc.
  • Organise conferences - local, national, regional
  • Establish an NGO day at the regional level
  • Translate resources into appropriate languages
  • Work with existing regional organisations

PRIORITY 5 Work with other organisations to tackle social problems

  • Network
  • Work cooperatively and celebrate with one another
  • Conduct volunteer and exchange visits
  • Organise conferences together
  • Establish a regional NGO day
  • Encourage NGOs to take part in the activities of other organisations involved in similar issues

PRIORITY 6 Promote Pacific Identity

  • Set up a think tank on the concept of cultural identity
  • Organise a conference to share the concept with others and observe grassroots reaction
  • Use tools already available to disseminate information on this concept
  • Take information into international forums
  • Constant researh/survey of community needs
  • Feedback to NLUs
  • Encourage public demonstrations or protests on issues affecting communities
  • Standardising process

Session 6: Structure and Operations

Reg Sanday introduced this session and referred delegates to the various organisational models explained on pages 8-12 of the PIANGO Background Paper. Delegates were then asked to discuss the type of structure which they would like PIANGO to have.

It was agreed that PIANGO should be directed by a Council made up of NLUs and interim members which meets on a three yearly basis. It was also agreed to elect a Coordinating Committee which would have a mandate to oversee the operation of the organisation within the parameters set by the Council. Further, it was agreed to establish a Secretariat and appoint staff to administer PIANGO's day-to-day activities.

Based on these discussions, and those of the previous two days, a draft constitution was prepared for the regional NGO network. Lengthy and detailed consideration was given to discussing the draft constitution.

Election of Coordinating Committee

Following the procedure laid out in the draft constitution, election of a Chairperson and six members of the Coordinating Committee took place.

Those elected for a three year term were:

Chairperson: Abraham Baeanisia (Solomon Islands)


  • Birdsall Alailima (America Samoa)
  • Bill Armstrong (Australia)
  • Bernie Keldermans (Belau)
  • Verneara Maeva (Cook Islands)
  • Mary Soondrawu (Papua New Guinea)
  • Gabriel Tetiarahi (Tahiti)

Mandate of Coordinating Committee

The Council agreed to delegate the following responsibilities to the Coordinating Committee:

  • funding
  • financing issues eg. wether membership fees should be charged
  • appoint Regional Coordinator and staff
  • decide on the form and location of Secretariat
  • develop the PIANGO Constitution to be ratified at the next Council Meeting (1994)
  • set up appropriate Sub-Committees

It was further agreed that all communications to the PIANGO Secretariat should be currently directed to Abraham Baeanisia, Chairperson PIANGO.

The Coordinating Committee was requested to report back to Council members within six months (i.e. February 1992) on the progress being made in acquiring funds, establishing the office and appointing staff etc.

Address by Funding Organisations

Mattew Kahane of UNDP and Wendy Poussard of CUSO informed delegates about the development programs of their respective organisations and stressed the importance of their relationships with NGOs. Both clearly indicated that they hope that the links with Pacific Island NGOs will continue to grow and be further enhanced with the foundation of PIANGO. However, they stressed that each organisation wished to maintain relationships with individual NGOs within the region, as well as with the PIANGO network.

Close of the Meeting

Delegates were invited to share their reflections regarding this significant NGO gathering. The American Samoan National Council of Churches and those who had contributed to the successful hosting of the meeting were sincerely thanked for their contribution and for their spirit of cooperations and friendship in which they had worked.

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