A book recording conversations with some of the founding Pacific Islands Forum Leaders has been launched in the region at a ceremony held at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji on 9 October.

The book 'New Flags Flying' is the work of veteran New Zealand broadcaster/writer Ian Johnstone and former New Zealand diplomat Michael Powles who have both spent considerable time in the Pacific and have personal memories of many of the leaders.

The interviews in the book provide a unique record of Pacific history and reflect the views and memories of the most influential decision makers of their time - telling not only the political stories of independence, but the personal stories of the men and women involved.

The long form archival interviews (both audio CD and text transcripts) are accompanied by written commentary, background information and photos. It is expected that the book will be a useful resource for all those with an interest in the region.

Interviews include those with Sir Robert Rex and Young Vivian (Niue); Sir Tom Davis and JH Webb (Cook Islands); Tofilau Eti Alesana and Tupua Tamasese Tupuola Efi (Samoa); Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara (Fiji);H.M.King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV (Tonga); Sir Michael Somare (Papua New Guinea); Sir Peter Kenilorea and Hon. Solomon Mamaloni (Solomon Islands); Father Walter Lini (Vanuatu); Sir Ieremia Tabai (Kiribati); Hon. Bikenibeu Paeniu (Tuvalu); Hon. Kessai Note (Marshall Islands) and Dr. Ludwig Keke (Nauru); John Haglelgam (Federated States of Micronesia); Sandra Sumang Pierantozzi (Palau); Dame Carol Kidu (Papua New Guinea) and Fiame Naomi Mata'afa (Samoa).

"The invitation to support this historical project came last year as the Pacific Islands Forum was celebrating its 40th anniversary. The Forum Secretariat did not hesitate to support it as it is a rare record of conversations with some of our founding Forum Leaders. They spoke about their challenges at that time and the visions they had for their own countries and the region as a whole. Today, we have in "New Flags Flying" a portal into the past with which we must seek gains for today. As we pursue improved lives for the peoples of the Pacific, let us reflect on the stories told by Pacific Leaders in this book," said Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Cameron Bowles, the Pacific Leadership Programme Regional Director said: "The AusAID Pacific Leadership Program is pleased to be supporting the distribution of 'New Flags Flying' to schools, institutions and libraries across the region. The book provides a vital window into a time when Pacific countries set off in the directions they envisioned for their people - and contains personal reflections and lessons that we hope will enrich the perspectives of students, professionals and citizens as they exercise leadership in their own lives."

Supporters of the New Flags Flying project include the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Radio New Zealand International, the Pacific Cooperation Foundation, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the AusAID Pacific Leadership Program.