INDEPENDENT NEWS

Goff Leads NZ Tour Of The Pacific

Published: Fri 1 Dec 2000 05:45 PM
Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement
1 December 2000
GOFF LEADS NZ TOUR OF THE PACIFIC
Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Conservation Minister Sandra Lee leave for a week-long tour of the Pacific on Sunday accompanied by a delegation of seven MPs.
“The South Pacific is a key part of New Zealand's heritage," Mr Goff said. "Six percent of our population comes from the region and we have longstanding historical, community and diplomatic ties. A lot of our diplomatic and development assistance effort is focussed on the Pacific.
"This trip is part of keeping in touch with our region and building up our relationships there. It will enable the delegation to become more familiar with issues our Pacific neighbours face and to demonstrate to them our commitment to the region.
Mr Goff and Ms Lee will be accompanied seven MPs from both sides of the House (Donna Awatere-Huata, Dr Paul Hutchinson, Winnie Laban, Keith Locke, Rt Hon Winston Peters, Hon Georgina Te Heuheu, and Dover Samuels).
"The involvement of all parties on the trip ensures that the whole of Parliament is better informed about the Pacific.
Also attending will be several representatives from NGOs and aid agency representatives, academics and a range of government officials who have direct responsibility for developing our relationship with the Pacific.
The itinerary includes New Caledonia (3-5 December), Vanuatu (5-7 December), Tonga (7-9 December) and Niue (9-10 December).
“The visit is an excellent opportunity to build upon our strong relations with these countries.
Mr Goff and Ms Lee will also discuss a number of important regional issues including conflict and instability in the Pacific, the problems of trans-national crime, the outcomes of the recent Pacific Islands Forum and the New Zealand/Australian proposal for a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary. The MPs will meet their parliamentary counterparts.
The delegation will meet leaders and Ministers including French High Commissioner, Thierry Lataste, President of the New Caledonian Government, Jean Lèques, Vanuatu Prime Minister, Hon Barak Sope, the King of Tonga, Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, and Acting Prime Minister, Hon Tevita (David) Tupou, and Niue’s Acting Premier, Hon Young Vivian.
On behalf of the New Zealand Government, Mr Goff also extended his deepest sympathies to the families and relatives of those killed in Tuesday’s helicopter crash in New Caledonia, including prominent Kanak business leader Raphael Pidjot.
The delegation returns to Wellington on Sunday 10 December.
ENDS

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