|• Premier||Jackson Kiloe|
|• Total||3,837 km2 (1,481 sq mi)|
|• Density||5.2/km2 (13/sq mi)|
|Time zone||+11 (UTC+11)|
The Choiseul Province is one of the nine provinces in Solomon Islands. It lies southeast of Bougainville (part of Papua New Guinea, west of Santa Isabel and north of Vella la Vella, Kolombangra & New Georgia. In the 2009 national census its population is 26,372.
The province consists of three major islands, which are Choiseul, Vaghena, and Rob Roy. Choiseul Island, which is commonly known as Lauru to the natives, has land area of 3,294 square kilometres (1,272 sq mi), Vaghena at 243 square kilometres (94 sq mi), and Rob Roy at 200 square kilometres (77 sq mi). Taro Island at 1.5 square kilometres (0.58 sq mi), is the capital of the province.
Discovery and naming
When the natives first arrived and discovered the big island, they called it Lauru. Then, in 1568, the Spanish explorer Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira rediscovered the island and named it San Marcos ('Saint Mark'). Mendana himself never set foot on Lauru. He called it San Marcos, because he saw the island from Santa Isabel on the Day of Saint Mark.
Today, the two most common names for the island are Choiseul and Lauru. San Marcos is not commonly used at this present day.
Choiseul Province was initially not part of the British Solomon Islands. Like Buka, Bougainville (both now part of Papua New Guinea's North Solomons Province), Santa Isabel, and Ontong Islands, it has been part of the German New Guinea Colony in 1884. 15 years later in 1899, Germany ceded Choiseul, Isabel and Ontong Java to the British to become part of the British Solomon Islands. In 1900, Charles Woodford, the Resident Commissioner for the Solomon Islands sailed to Choiseul via Isabel on a ship named Torch and planted the British flag on Choiseul on 23 August 1900. Proclaiming Choiseul as part of the British Solomon. During World War II, North West Choiseul, along the Nukiki to Voza corridor was partly occupied by Japanese military forces whose garrison was raided by US marine forces in October and November 1943. The protectorate sets up the Choiseul Council in 1948. The council consists of representatives of the seven sub districts in Choiseul. The Council meets twice a year with the District Commissioner to discuss its business.
On 25 February 1992, a separate Choiseul province was created by separation from the Western Province.
It has had the following Premieres:
- 1992–96 Clement Kengava
- 1996–2000 Simmy Vazarabatu
- 2000– Jackson Kiloe
Members to the National Parliament. There are three constituencies in Choiseul.
- Late Dr.Gideon Zoleveke
- Late Hon. Allan Qurusu
- Hon.Manasseh Sogavare (1994–present)
- Hon. Alpha Kimata
- Hon. Clement Kengava
- Hon. Connelly Sadakabatu (2010–present)
- Hon. Jason Dorovolomo
- Hon.Rev Caleb Kotali
- Hon.Rev Leslie Boseto
- Hon. Elijah Doro Muala (2010–present)
The Choiseul Provincial Health Service (CPHS) has 26 health facilities around the province. The main referral provincial hospital is the Taro Hospital. The hospital is based on the Taro Island which is also the island capital of the province. It is the first certified Baby Friendly Hospital in the Solomon Islands in October 2010. And awarded the shield by UNICEF and WHO. The award means that Taro Hospital advocates for exclusive breastfeeding for babies up to six months before introduction of soft diet. The hospital also does not encourage artificial and bottle feeding of babies. It also has links to community groups that support, protect and promote the practice of exclusive breast feeding of babies within Taro Hospital catchment area.
The Choiseul Provincial Health Service is also very active in health promotion and education targeting the rural population. It pays emphasis on preventative activities down to the rural areas with the help of community groups, churches and donor partners.
Taro Hospital offers the following primary health programs, reproductive health on ante natal and post natal care, childhealth on immunization, nutrition and breastfeeding practices, non communicable disease,mental health services and malaria program.
Solomon Telekom Company Limited is the sole provider of both landline and mobile phone communication in the province. Telekom's office is in Taro. Landline phone communication can only be found only on Taro Island. However, Telekom also covers the island with mobile phone towers. Currently, its mobile phone towers are in Pangoe Village, Kagaloga, Sasamuqa and Wagina. In June 2014, Our Telekom added two new mobile towers, one on Ropa Island, in South Choiseul and the second at Ogho village, North West Choiseul.
Two way VHF radio can also be found in the villages, churches, schools and clinics.
The first missionaries that came to Choiseul were the Methodists. The first attempt by the Methodist Ministers led by Rev John Goldie was made in 1904, but, was unsuccessful. In 1905, a second attempt was made by Rev Stephen Rabone Rooney, this time on the South of Choiseul at Sasamuqa, which was successful, leading to the first mission established in Sasamuqa village in 1905. The missionaries were instrumental in the introduction of education and health to the population. The three denominations involved in Missionary work in Choiseul were the Methodists, Catholics and the Seventh Day Adventists.
The people consists of several Melanesian tribes including the Gilbertese who live on Vaghena. In the 19th century head hunting and blackbirding were widespread in the Solomon Islands. This led to the extinction of the people on Vaghena in the 1870s. Even in the 20th century the Choiseul islanders were ill-reputed as brutal cannibals so that visitors only came with armed forces to that island. In 1916 there were brutal feuds between the several tribes which were ended by the peace treaty of Sasamungga on 8 August 1921. This event, called Kulabule, is a holiday on Choiseul.
Traditionally, people in Choiseul use bamboos for traditional flutes. Now these traditional music is only performed in custom ceremonies. One of the string bands from Choiseul was the Sirovanga Boys. Their best known song being "seni memory." Another group from Choiseul in the early 2000s was the band Savoto. Their hit songs include "inaka mach" and "Ke siro."
The inhabitants of Choiseul are soccer enthusiasts. They have a team called Lauru Kuvojo, which in 2005 took part at the Solomon-Cup, the national football championship of the Solomon Islands. They have finished their participation already in the preliminary round. In November 2012 the bi-annual Kuvojo Cup was held with a team representing the provincial capital Taro winning against a team from Senga ward. Most of the 14 wards throughout Choiseul sent representative teams to participate at the Kuvojo Cup tournament in both soccer and netball.
Flora and fauna
The flora and fauna are both characteristic of Australia and New Guinea. The biggest mammal is the endangered dugong, a seacow which occurs in the waters near Rob Roy and Taro Island. The largest reptile is the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) known from Australia. Known birds are the Sanford's fish eagle (Haliaeetus sanfordi), the Pacific black duck (Anas superciliosa), and the eastern reef egret (Egretta sacra). Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the only habitat of the now extinct Choiseul crested pigeon (Microgoura meeki). Choiseul is also an important breeding place for the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta). The flora is represented by mangroves and coconuts.
Commercial logging continues to operate in Choiseul throughout the entire province. Nickel Mining is planned to commence in 2016 in Katupika and will see over 2,000 hectares (7.7 sq mi) cleared to gain access to nickel deposits over the life of the mining operation. Prospecting for gold has also occurred close to Susuka in north Choiseul. A proposal to establish over 4,000 hectares (15 sq mi) in north Choiseul as oil palm plantation will also have significant environmental impact.
Major Developments in modern day Choiseul
- logging in Choiseul. Eagon Resource Company Limited is the first logging company to operate in Choiseul when it landed in Moli in 1989.
- 25 June 2010- MV.San Marcos, the second ship of Lauru Shipping is commissioned in Taro. San Marcos is a cargo boat of 35 meter,340 tonne,250 cubic metres loading capacity and can travel at 10 knots. The vessel was bought from Japan for SB$3.7 million [US$445,000] with funds from the national government SB$1 million [US$12,000], Taiwan Government SB$1 million, Lauru Shipping Company SB$1.6 million [US$193,000] and South Choiseul Constituency SB$100,000 [US$12,000]
- Taro Township. The Choiseul Township Project Office was established in 2008.A short term Land Consultant that has been engaged since 2009 who facili-tated the process of acquiring the perpetual estate, parcel 015-002-4 which was pur-chased under the Sales and Purchase Agree-ment. Then on 21 December 2011 in the village of Poroporo,The Minister of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening, Hon. Walter Folotalu presided over the signing ceremony of the pro-curement of perpet-ual estate to the Provincial Government. On that day the Minister handed over a cheque of $4 million as part payment of the purchase price of ten million and forty thousand dollars for a piece of land. The payment was made to the land owners in the mainland.
- First Generator Housefor Taro was built in 2011. It is a diesel generator. It was brought in time for to provide lights for the first Premier's Conference to be held in Choiseul later that year.
- Airport upgrade and Terminal Taro airport was upgraded in 2011 with its first terminal in 2011. It was also fenced all around as well. The terminal building was funded by PGSP.
- New Provincial Assembly Hall was built and completed in 2011 with support from the PGSP funding. It was built purposely in time to accommodate the Premiers' Conference in Taro.
- Taro New concrete wharf was built in 2011 to replace the old wooden wharf.
- New Computer Lab for Choiseul Bay Provincial Secondary School was built in 2012. The only Provincial Secondary School in the province.
- In April 2013, the first EFTOS machine was installed by Westpac Bank in the capital Taro as an in store service. Launching the service is Hon.Elijah Doromuala, the parliament member for South Choiseul.
- During the Choiseul Provincial election that was held in October 2013 history was made when 4 women candidates compete in the election. This is the first time women are competing at the provincial level since Choiseul became a province. All four however do not manage to win a sit in the 14 sits of the Provincial Assembly.
- In 2014 financial year, the Province's annual budget is $15,004,189.00 (SBD) of which $5,729,704.00 is recurrent expenditure and $9,274,485.00 is capital expenditure.
- Choiseul Province Medium Term Development Plan 2012-2014
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- Information about Choiseul (engl.)
- History of Choiseul (engl.)
- WorldStatesmen- Solomon Islands & includes flag
- Exploring Solomons - Choiseul page