Kanak (French spelling until 1984: Canaque) are the indigenous Melanesian inhabitants of New Caledonia, an overseas collectivity of France in the southwest Pacific. According to the 2014 census, they make up 39.1% of the total population with around 104,000 people.

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  • Kanak (French spelling until 1984: Canaque) are the indigenous Melanesian inhabitants of New Caledonia, an overseas collectivity of France in the southwest Pacific. According to the 2014 census, they make up 39.1% of the total population with around 104,000 people. Though Melanesian settlement is recorded on Grande Terre's Presqu'île de Foué as far back as the Lapita culture, the origin of Kanak people is unclear. Ethnographic research has shown that Polynesian seafarers have intermarried with the Kanaks over the centuries. The Kanaks refer to the European inhabitants of New Caledonia as Caldoches. New Caledonia was annexed to France in 1853, and became an overseas territory of France in 1956. An independence movement led to a failed revolt in 1967, and was restarted in 1984, pursuing total independence status from the French rule. When the 1988 Matignon agreements were signed between the representatives of France and New Caledonia to decide on holding the referendum for independence, Jean-Marie Tjibaou, the Kanak leader of the independence movement, had mooted a proposal to set up an Agency for the Development of Kanak Culture (ADCK). After Tjibaou's assassination in 1989, the French President François Mitterrand ordered that a cultural centre on the lines suggested by Tjibaou be set up in Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia; it was to be the last of Mitterrand's Grands Projets. The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre was formally established in May 1998. Although ancient Lapita potteries date back to 1500 BC, and the people of the island have long been involved in the arts, since the establishment of the ADCK, Kanak arts and crafts have become more popular in New Caledonia. Wooden carvings in the shape of hawks, ancient gods, serpents and turtles are popular as is flèche faîtière, a carving which resembles a small totem pole with symbolic shapes. Music, dance and singing are part of many a Kanak ceremonial function and dances are performed during the traditional Kanak gatherings with the objective of cementing relationships within the clan and with ancestors. (en)
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  • Kanak (French spelling until 1984: Canaque) are the indigenous Melanesian inhabitants of New Caledonia, an overseas collectivity of France in the southwest Pacific. According to the 2014 census, they make up 39.1% of the total population with around 104,000 people. (en)
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  • Kanak people (en)
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  • Kanak (en)
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