Thursday, July 18, 2024

Fiji PM makes first official visit to NZ since 1998

Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka is visiting New Zealand this week – his first official visit in more than two decades.

Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins said he looked forward to welcoming Prime Minister Rabuka to New Zealand.

Previously holding the Office of Prime Minister between 1992 and 1999, Prime Minister Rabuka last visited New Zealand in his capacity as prime minister in 1998.

This official visit marks 25 years since the last State Visit from a Prime Minister of Fiji to New Zealand.

“New Zealand and Fiji have a long standing relationship, based on close cooperation in areas of mutual interest like climate change, and ensuring a safe, secure and economically prosperous  Pacific region,” Prime Minister Hipkins said.

“While we were together in Papua New Guinea recently, it was clear Prime Minister Rabuka was highly respected and influential not just in Fiji, but also across the wider Pacific region.

“I’m looking forward to building on our discussions there, and reaffirming New Zealand’s support as a trusted friend and bilateral partner to Fiji.”

He said New Zealand and Fiji share a strong focus on Pacific regionalism, including upholding Pacific Islands Forum unity; resuming financial support for the University of South Pacific; and working with other traditional partners, such as Australia, on defence and security matters.

“We’re also cooperating closely to address climate change and its impacts. Both New Zealand and Fiji are not strangers to the devastating impacts of climate change, and I again want to thank Fiji for their support in our response to Cyclone Gabrielle,” said Mr Hipkins.

“I’m also confident we’ll be discussing our long history of close sporting, cultural, and people-to-people links and the work we are doing alongside the Fiji Government in the spirit of our Duavata Partnership agreement.”

While in New Zealand, Prime Minister Rabuka will undertake a series of formal engagements in Auckland and Wellington, including bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Hipkins, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw, and a ceremonial visit to the National War Memorial and Pacific War Memorial Te Reo Hotunui o te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, at Pukeahu.

The Head of the People’s Coalition Government said he was looking forward to meeting with Mr Hipkins “as New Zealand and Fiji share a long standing relationship, based on close cooperation in areas of mutual interest”.

His official programme also includes a number of community events, coordinated by the Fiji High Commission in New Zealand.

Prime Minister Rabuka arrived in New Zealand yesterday and is due to depart on Thursday.

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