“It was a great opportunity, a great blessing in my life to be able to study and now live in Europe. I come from New Caledonia. The situation over there is quite complicated. Politics is quite… corrupt… let’s put it this way. I like it here in Europe, I like the open-mindedness we don’t have over there. We’re a very communitarian society. There are many small clusters of populations that don’t mix much. I’m from a minority, the Indonesians, who are from the muslim community. We have a lot of intermixing in the family: Europeans mixed with Blacks and Asians, and Maoris, with Indonesians.
People don’t all look the same over there, but still racism persists, and discrimination in employment… Imagine people, different than me, who have the right to a much better scholarship because they are of a different color. The place I’m from in New Caledonia is very remote, and very few people look like me over there. And it’s not easy being the only Asian in a school of 300 students. But here I don’t feel it. People seem interested about where I come from, and I really like it. I was barred from voting over there by someone at the town hall who said it was because I lived so many years in France, and that I didn’t have the Caledonian voting rights anymore. Which is totally absurd and false. And all of this because of my skin color. All of this because I’m not black.
My sister who doesn’t have an indegenous surname doesn’t have the same rights as someone who’s ancesters are from there. And yet we’re the 4th generation of Niaouli! It’s the generation of Indonesians who came to work in the coffee fields. Niaouli is the name of a tree. And even native people are against this idea of racism. But it’s out of the question for me to come back to a place like this. But it’s a beautiful country, beautiful landscapes… you have to visit, it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world. People can seem a bit cold at first, but they’re actually very warm.”
(Place du Bourg-de-Four | translated from French)
On the name Niaouli: “Some believe that this name is simply referring to the capacity of resistance and adaptations of the Javanese, which is as strong as that of the niaouli, a species of eucalyptus of the myrtacea family, and a native tree of New Caledonia. Others say that this name was given to them because Javanese mothers working the coffee fields used to hang the sarong in which they carried their babies to the branches of the niaoulis so they wouldn’t be bothered by animals and other insects.” J-L Maurer, “Les Javanais de Nouvelle-Calédonie : des affres de l’exil aux aléas de l’intégration” (my own translation)
The full article of J-L Maurer (french): http://horizon.documentation.ird.fr/…/aut…/010028950.pdf
Wikipedia (french) : https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indon%C3%A9siens_de_Nouvelle-Cal%C3%A9donie