By Mike Puia
THE Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) confirms investigation is underway into reports that some Guadalcanal landowners removed a USA war memorial at Red Beach, in the Tenaru area, on North Guadalcanal.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Andrew Nihopara said his Ministry will work closely with the Guadalcanal police to investigate this matter. The investigation starts today.
Reports reaching this paper confirmed some Guadalcanal landowners in the Foxwood area entered a land owned by Solomon islanders of Kiribati origin and removed a white pillar monument that was planted there to mark the USA Marine Corps 1st and 5th landing spot on Guadalcanal.
The USA consulate office in Honiara, yesterday, expressed dismay over this reports.
US consul, Mrs Keithie Saunders, said “…US is very disappointed to see these important land marks destroyed.”
Saunders said military tourism is very important, not only for historical value but also as a viable income for villagers where the monuments are installed.
War monuments in the country come under the care of the MCT. As for the US monuments, the US consulate office only looks after the US war memorial at Skyline.
Members of the Kiribati community there expressed their dismay over the action.
Secretary of the Te I Tungara Association, John Bakeua, said the monument has been moved to a new site 800 meters inland from where it originally stood.
Bakeua said the monument was removed with the help of Dalgro loaders, truck and drivers.
He said they decided to file a case against those who removed the monument but Guadalcanal police advised not to as the monument does not belong to them.
On social media, the issue attracted interest.
One of them, Joseph Waleanisia said national monuments are national assets regardless of location and whoever destroys it should be charged.
He said lease hold title does not denote ownership of monuments.
Waleanisia said the action should be condemned and the culprit charged for criminal act and civil disloyalty saying “this is an irresponsible and selfish act and someone must be taught a lesson”.
Nihopara said any World War II monument or related relic falls under the Protection of Wreck and Relic Act CAP 150, which is enforceable by the National Museum.