The relationship between Samoa and New Zealand was celebrated on Monday evening during a reception at Letava.
There, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern highlighted the importance of the Treaty-of-Friendship between the two countries and efforts being made to combat climate change.
The occasion was the official Pacific Mission 2018 reception.
“The Treaty of friendship that stands between New Zealand and Samoa has stood the test of time and continue to do so,” said Ms. Ardern. “And it’s not just because New Zealand can fill its basket with your best sports people because I can tell you, despite the amount of shared citizenship between N.Z. and Samoa, you know exactly where loyalty sets as soon as the mighty Manu Samoa plays.
“And it becomes very clear. We have cultivated relationships of partners, one that includes likeminded approach to so many issues and our multifaceted aid program, which we’ve worked alongside Samoa to develop is all about investing in people and it reflects their true and genuine partnership and friendship and that its commitment is to ultimately support Samoa achieve your goal and fulfill your expectations and ambitions.
“Of course there are things that set us both back, and tropical cyclones is a reminder of just how vulnerable the region can be.
“What became clear at the same time is not just how ferocious the weather changes, but resilience of the people in Samoa.
“We know that these events are part of living in the Pacific, but that does not make it any easier, it does feel like the effects of climate change are increasing the events,” said Ms. Ardern.
She said TC Gita rumbled through the Pacific and it’s a reminder of the connectedness shared in facing the challenges and also addressing them as well.
Ms. Ardern mentioned a Maori proverb which reflects the sharing of one canoe.
“I think that it capitulates in our desire to ensure that everyone in the canoe is looked after and cared for, regardless of where we are.”
She said $5.5million was handed over to the Samoa Government to assist with the recovery of TC Gita.
The N.Z. Prime Minister noted how impressive Gaualofa managed to track across to New Zealand for the New Zealand Festival in honouring celestial navigation despite Tropical Cyclone Gita.
“It was such a treat to watch the delegation from Samoa perform a haka like they had known it for years, and when they told me they learned it in the course of five days, I felt ashamed, because you wouldn’t get me to produce something like that over a short period of time, such a natural fit from the crew from Samoa.
“We are united by domestic challenges and I acknowledge the work that has been done locally here, alongside that habitat rebuild project, making sure that 280 families have a roof over their heads.”
Ms. Ardern reiterated the pledge she made earlier on Samoa’s focus on climate change.
“Your voice on climate change has been incredibly strong, your leadership has been strong and we will stand alongside you as we continue to advocate for a world that is aware of the impact of climate change on this region.”
She concluded the depth of the connection of New Zealand and Samoa is amplified by the delegation present, which included Samoans who serve in her administration.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi commended the New Zealand Prime Minister for the decision to proceed with the visit in the aftermath of TC Gita.
“It gives us the assurance that we are in a region where countries are mutually supported particularly in addressing the realities of climate change,” Tuilaepa said.
“And as the current chair of the Pacific Island Forum leaders, I wish to acknowledge convergence on the key priorities of our region in support of regionalism.”
He said the issues will be elaborated more during the 49th P.I.Fs in Nauru, in September this year.
Tuilaepa also acknowledged that New Zealand and Australia will be a part of the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting with Japan in May, 2018.
“The P.A.L.M. 8, as Co-Chair and I participated in all seven P.A.L.M.’s, Samoa is seeking support for the priority issues and how these would have a strategic fit under Japan. “At the global arena, the Pacific countries are taking advantage of the impact of strengthening a collective voice and collective action under the Blue Pacific continent, an identity on matters of urgent priority in climate change security and oceans,” said Tuilaepa.
The Pacific continues to seek support, to ensure that this collective voice has an expanded outreach globally.
Tuilaepa acknowledged New Zealand’s response to requests with additional $3million pledged by the government towards the remedial work to be done post Cyclone Gita.
“I want to acknowledge the importance of people to people connections manifested in scholarship programs, volunteer scheme, seasonal workers schemes, and the ever growing diaspora in all regions of New Zealand, we have also taken note of New Zealand’s position on migration.”