Last week I lead a delegation to Samoa, Tonga, and Niue for the 2014 Pacific Mission. The New Zealand delegation was made up of around 40 members and includes Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, cross-party members of Parliament, Pacifika leaders, and representatives from non-governmental organisations.
New Zealand is proudly a nation of the Pacific. Many New Zealanders identify as Pacific, and Pacific culture plays a big role in New Zealand’s diversity. In fact Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world. We’re committed to helping Pacific communities to get ahead and that’s why on my visit we announced a number of important investments in the region.
In Samoa, we will invest $1 million to help boost the tourism sector. Tourism is critical to Samoa’s economy, contributing nearly a quarter of the country’s annual GDP.This will help the Samoa……. Tourism Authority upgrade a number of important visitor attractions, and improve information and access to visitor attractions more generally. By improving the tourist experience we help increase income for local businesses and communities.
In Tonga we’re contributing $5 million to rebuilding schools in Tonga’s Ha’apai islands following the devastating Cyclone Ian earlier this year. The $7.5 m joint project with the Asian Development Bank and the Tongan Government will have a big impact on the lives of nearly 1,300 students affected by the cyclone.
In Niue, we’re investing $1.25 million to support tourism and renewable energy.Tourism is the primary driver of economic development in Niue, creating jobs for locals, growing business and pumping foreign capital into the economy.This money will support the development new accommodation, and improve key infrastructure, including telecommunications, electricity, waste management and water supply.
I have really enjoyed the opportunity lead this delegation. It was great to meet the people of these countries and announce important policy’s which I believe shows the important role New Zealand plays in the Islands. Making sure we look after the countries that many kiwis have strong links too, and are important part of New Zealand’s culture.
This week I am looking forward to being back in New Zealand, and get out my gumboots for Field days at the Mystery Creek Events Centre in Hamilton. When our primary sector succeeds, New Zealand succeeds. A successful primary sector is part of our plan to create more jobs, raise incomes, and build a more productive and competitive economy – one of National’s four priorities.
Field days showcases the latest cutting edge agricultural technology and innovation. With more than 1000 exhibitors it’s one of the biggest agricultural events in the Southern Hemisphere. I can’t wait to be a part of it and hope to see you there.