One shot dead, two injured as unrest escalates in New Caledonia

New Caledonia's French High Commission has confirmed one person has been shot dead and two others injured as unrest escalates in the capital Noumea. 

The city is about to be put under curfew for a second night and the airport has been closed, stranding many Kiwis. 

The native Kanak population is angry over a decision out of Paris that means 25,000 more people will be eligibile to vote in local elections. 

Smoke rising from the city signals civil unrest across Noumea, with deep hurt and anger felt from pro-independence forces. 

"We hope that our voice, our dignity and our pride of being the people of Kanaky, will be heard by the General Assembly," one woman said. 

However, these protests didn't change the decision made 17,000km away in France, backing controversial changes to voting eligibility that mean anyone who's lived in New Caledonia for at least a decade will be able to vote in local elections. 

The decision has sparked the worst unrest the country has seen in 30 years as Kanak indigenous people lead the fight for an independent nation. 

Roadblocks and barricades have been erected on the streets and travel by road, in and out of the capital, is not possible.

In New Zealand, Pascale Desrumaux is thinking of her family back home in Noumea witnessing the destruction. 

"My main feeling is terrified, I want them to be safe, that's all I want," Desrumaux said. 

"At the moment they only destroy facilities but I am afraid that they will come to a point that they will attack the population so that will be a drama." 

Buildings and cars have been torched, and businesses looted. 

People are being told to limit their movements, with a curfew put in place on Tuesday night and again tonight between 6pm and 6am. 

Noumea International Airport has been forced to close, grounding tourists - including Kiwis - who want to come home. 

So far 138 New Zealanders have registered on the Safe Travel website, and officials have been helping with advice, including to those in Australia. 

"The New Zealand embassy has been in contact with the hotel but apparently the Australian embassy are yet to make any contact, it's a bit concerning," one Australian tourist told Newshub. 

The Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman is warning people to check their travel insurance policies because many won't cover civil unrest and rioting. 

But for those who live there, the impact of this French decision will be felt for some time. 

"You can fix the buildings, the cars, but the people's feelings is a different thing," Desrumaux said. "It's going to take a while"  

It's a divided country, with an unclear road ahead.