West Are’are locals turn back foreigners wanting to scuba WWII wreckage


Foreign divers have been blocked from diving a World War II wreckage at the West Are’are Lagoon.

Three foreigners were reportedly turned back last week by locals when they failed to show their approval from the Malaita provincial government for their diving expedition.

MPA for Ward 24, Peter Clay Taraumae told SunAuki yesterday this was the result of not following protocol or procedures put in place by authorities.

He explains that WWII wreckages and relics are protected by law and foreigners have to go through processes in order to access or view them.

“Two weeks ago, I received a tip that locals within West Are Are lagoon were collaborating with some foreign divers to dive a WWII plane wreckage within the lagoon,” Taraumae said.

“I researched the tip and found it to be genuine, so I informed landowners of Ruakoaa Islands, who are at Oterama, Nari’ekeara and Masihuro villages on the matter.

“Upon dialogue, landowners demanded to know reasons for diving the plane within their sea and whether the divers and their local acquaintances get approval from MPG,” he said.

Taraumae said the divers and their local hosts got wind that he was looking for them.

“They called me and we arranged to meet on Tuesday last week in Auki. Unfortunately, our meeting did not take place.

“Despite the meeting, I expect the divers to submit proposals containing the purpose of their diving and await approval from the executive government.

“Nothing as such happened. On Wednesday a OBM from Ta’arutona picked them from Auki and transported them to West Are Are lagoon,” he said.

The MPA alerted leaders within Oterama and surrounding communities to meet with the divers and question them on their purpose for diving.

He said the landowners met with the divers and asked them for documents showing approval from the MPG, which they did not produce.

He said the landowners viewed this as failure to comply with protocols and told them not to dive.

According to the MPA, the plane wreckage is located about 40m deep near Ruakoaa Island within West Are Are lagoon.

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