Samoa, Kiribati, Tonga first to celebrate new year 2017


The people of Samoa,  Kiribati and Tonga were the first in the world to celebrate the New Year.

A total 400,000 residents of the Pacific islands, brought in 2017 with feasts and cheers.

Parts of Samoa including its capital Apia were flooded by continuing heavy rains, forcing celebrations under cover.

Almost straddling the international date line, the small country legally switched over their time zone in 2012 to avoid being 23 hours behind major trade partner New Zealand. 

Following the three Pacific Islands the 600 residents of New Zealand’s remote archipelago of Chatham, about 680 kilometers southeast of the main islands  will pop the Champagne corks.

Half an hour later, mainland New Zealand and the population of Fiji will begin the countdown.

One of the main events in New Zealand’s will the fireworks display from the 328-meter Sky Tower, in the northern city of Auckland, watched by an anticipated 30,000.

Early arrivals claim prime positions to watch fireworks in front of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia (Reuters/J. Reed)

More than one million people are expected to gather for Sydney’s fireworks display

At 1300 UTC, the east coast of Australia will begin celebrations. Authorities expect more about 1.5 million people to watch the pyrotechnic show at Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Earlier on Saturday night the city’s first fireworks display was a tribute to some of the artists who died in 2016, including a shower of purple fireworks as Prince’s Purple Rain played over loudspeakers.

 “This year, sadly, we saw the loss of many music and entertainment legends around the world,” fireworks co-producer Catherine Flanagan said. “So celebrating their music as part of Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks displays is an opportunity to reflect on the year that has been and what the future may hold.”

In Germany, people were preparing to welcome in the new year beginning with the ceremonial broadcasting of cult British TV classic Dinner for One.

Authorities in Germany placed bans on the right-wing extremist National Party of Germany (NPD) and the populist, anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) from holding rallies in Cologne, the sight of mass sexual attacks by immigrants on the evening of December 31st last year, citing safety concerns. The citybeefed up security  this year.

This New Year’s Eve December 31st will beone second longer than usual as keepers of the time add a leap second to compensate for the Earth’s slightly slower rotation.

aw/rc (EFE, dpa, AP)