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Nouméa (Municipality, New Caledonia, France)

Last modified: 2017-07-19 by ivan sache
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Flag of Nouméa
Left, 2003 - Image by Pascal Gross & Jens Pattke, 13 May 2006
Right, 2004 - Image by Pascal Gross, 13 May 2006


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Presentation of Nouméa

The municipality of Nouméa (76,293 inhabitants in 1996; 5,000 ha; municipal website) is the capital of New Caledonia.
Nouméa was founded as Port-de-France in 1854 by Captain Tardy de Montravel. The site was selected because of its harbour, which has deep water and is protected from the main winds. In 1855, the Engineers' officer Paul Coffyn was commissioned to draw the map of the new city; Coffyn's draft was revised in 1869. The municipality of Port-de-France, founded on 26 June 1859, was renamed Nouméa on 2 June 1866. The city developed around Fort Constantine, today replaced by the Gaston Bourret hospital. New boroughs were created after the draining and filling up of the marshy areas. The port of Nouméa was developed at the same time. Water was brought from river Yahoué by a canal, replaced in 1893 by a water main from river Dumbéa.
In the 1880s, the municipality provided gas street lighting, phone and public transportation. The railway, originally planned between Nouméa and Bourail but eventually limited to the Nouméa-Païta line, inaugurated in 1914.
During the Second World War, Nouméa, already the economical capital of the island, became the strategic capital of the American forces stationed on the island.

The Ducos paeninsula, named by Tardy de Montravel in 1854, was originally linked to the main island only by a thin stripe of sand just above the water and separated from the center of Nouméa by a big marshy area. In 1872, the French government decided to use it as a deportation camp, in spite of the protest of the Municipal Council of Nouméa, which used the place as a quarantine camp for cattle and as a fishing reserve. On 28 September 1872, the ship La Danaé brought the first convicts jailed in the camp of Numbo. Two more camps were set up, one of them being for the convict women (including the anarchist Louise Michel) and the convicts' women and children. The former "anse Richard" was renamed "baie des Dames". The camps progressively covered the whole paeninsula, which was linked to the main island by a wooden gangway. The first dyke was built in 1936. The last remain of the camps is the warders' cemetary, located at the end of the bay of Numbo.
During the Second World War, the US Army set up in Ducos a deep-water harbour, a seaplane base, military camps and warehouses. The paeninsula is today divided in seven boroughs where most of the industries in Nouméa and New Caledonia are concentrated.

Ivan Sache, 13 May 2006


Flag of Nouméa

Two versions of the flag of Nouméa have been reported, both made of a white flag with a representation of the municipal coat of arms in the middle. The flag seen on 23 July 2003 on TV images of the visit of President of the Republic Jacques Chirac in Nouméa; was charged with a multicoloured version of the coat of arms. In July 2004, the municipal flag seen in multiple copies in Nouméa had the coat of arms in white and turquoise blue. This seems to be the reverse of the current municipal logotype, as shown on the municipal website.

As explained by the municipal administration of Nouméa, the municipal coat of arms was adopted in 1997 by Decision No. 82. The coat of arms existed earlier; an article in the newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes, 13 August 1991, gives the blazon of the arms as: "Azur a vessel or [...] in dexter canton a sun or, the shield surmounted by a kagu argent [...]. The supporters are two sea horses argent. "Nouméa" is written in letters sable on a scroll or.

There are 197 species of birds recorded in New Caledonia, among which 23 are endemic, that is not found anywhere else in the wild. The International Union for Nature Conservation (UICN) has listed 17 endemic forest birds of New Caledonia on the Red List of endangered species, which includes 1,211 bird species worldwide. The most famous of them and the emblematic bird of New Caledonia is the kagu (IUCN record).
The kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) is the only member of the genus Rhynochetos, which is the only member of the family Rhynochetidae. It was trapped by the Melanesians, and later by the Europeans, for pet and plume trade. The bird retreated to the interior of the island, where its habitat was destroyed by nickel mining. The species is now threatened by feral dogs and pigs; predation by cats and rats is not documented. The kagu has full legal protection since 1977. It is believed than less than 1,000 kagus still live in New Caledonia, mostly in the South Province.
Most scientific publications on kagu were made by Dr. Gavin Hunt, now with the Department of Psychology of the University of Auckland, New Zeland and working on tool-making ability in New Caledonian crows. Dr. Hunt worked on bird conservation in New Caledonia from 1991 to 1995 and defended in 1997 in Massey University his Ph.D. thesis entitled, Ecology and conservation of the Kagu Rhynochetos jubatus of New Caledonia (text)
Hunt wrote the chapter on kagu in two references books:
Hunt, G.R. (2002). Kagu. In Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 10: Birds. Gale Publishing Group, Farmington Hills, MI (text).
Hunt, G.R. (1996). Rhynochetidae (Kagu). Pp. 218-225 In (Eds. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J.) Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 3. Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Olivier Touzeau, Nozomi Karyasu, Jens Pattke, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 13 May 2006


Tontouta Airport

[Flag of CCI New Caledonia]

Flag of CCI New Caledonia - Image by Kazutaka Nishiura, 23 November 2009

Tontouta Airport at Nouméa is managed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New Caledonia. The "generic" CCI flag is used at the airport, although CCI New Caledonia has a slightly different emblem, with a blue map of the archipelago in the white disk.

Nozomi Karyasu & Ivan Sache, 23 November 2009