For many New Zealanders, Oceania is a tropical playground of sun, sand, and pineapples, but the region is much more than that. A region made up of nations as different as Papua New Guinea – with six and a half million inhabitants and hundreds of languages – and Niue, with fourteen hundred residents. Oceania is one of the most diverse places on Earth.
While the countries of Oceania are not the world’s poorest, many people live in conditions of absolute poverty. In the Solomon Islands, around 11 percent of people are estimated to receive less than a minimum daily intake of calories. Though this is a substantial improvement from the beginning of the 1990s. In Papua New Guinea, people face similar problems with getting enough food, and many young children have stunted growth from malnutrition. Part of the problem in Papua New Guinea is a lack of access to roads in rural areas, making it difficult for families to buy and sell produce.For other parts of the Pacific, food security problems are not necessarily about getting enough food – but enough good, nutritious food. New Zealand has been accused of exporting obesity to the Pacific through its exports of high-fat mutton flaps. These, along with other meat cuts rejected by developed countries’ consumers, provide a cheap source of meat for Pasifika people, but carry with them a high risk of health problems. Along with many in the developing world, the people of Oceania are facing higher and increasing food prices.
Many parts of Oceania are also heavily vulnerable to extreme weather and our changing climate. Flooding and tropical storms regularly threaten food production, which may leave people reliant on expensive imports. In some countries, increasing populations are disrupting traditional systems of land ownership, while in others migration may leave productive land unused.