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Samoans leave an “indelible mark” on New Zealand: Ardern

Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern celebrated the unique relationship between Samoa and New Zealand at a reception in Apia last night. 

The New Zealand delegation arrived in Samoa on Saturday, en route to a state visit to Tokelau. Prime Minister Ardern toured two New Zealand-funded developments before Ms. Ardern met with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi.

Speaking at a reception at the New Zealand High Commissioner's residence, Ms. Ardern said Samoa has left an “indelible mark” on New Zealand through migration and a large and growing diaspora community.

“That is something I feel is completely unique and I find it often hard to describe when I travel what the Pacific culture means to New Zealand; how it has shaped us; how it is so much part of our identity,” she said.

She commended Tuilaepa for attending New Zealand’s Waitangi Day services in February this year, and Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa for her work on climate change at the Just Transition Summit in May.

“Our contact is frequent; it has real depth and I think it is honest," she said. 

"Those are all traits I know on both sides we value enormously.

“In many ways, friendship doesn’t quite capture the day-to-day reality of our relationship. 

"Actually moments in time, that is what captures the depth of that friendship: and those include the good times and the bad.”

The visiting P.M. shared how, immediately after the horrific terrorist attack on the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch on March 15, Samoa was one of the nations that came to support New Zealand.

“On that day it was our friends that reached out to us immediately, offering their support, including His Highness attending the national remembrance service in Christchurch.

“It means everything for us to be able to talk face to face with one another but also to be there to support one another in our greatest moments of grief, and so to Samoa I acknowledge you for that, and that true display of friendship through that time. It is what friends do.”

For his part, Prime Minister Tuilaepa commended Ms. Ardern on her decision to visit Tokelau, becoming the first Prime Minister of New Zealand to do so since Helen Clark 2004.

He said it afforded her another opportunity to visit Samoa, which he enjoyed. (Ms. Ardern made her last official visit in March). 

“I am glad that you were able to visit the completed Apia Waterfront project this afternoon and seeing first hand a landscape upgrade of the town area,” Tuilaepa said.

He also commended New Zealand on its voluntary review of its implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals – 17 international goals by the United Nations, which target 2030 as the finish line.

“Climate change, regional security, sustainable use of our ocean and resources are among key regional priority matters, which I look forward to discussing later when the [Pacific Islands] Forum members meet in Tuvalu next month," he said. 

The Pacific Islands Forum will meet for the 50th time in Tuvalu from the 13th to the 16th of August. 

Ms. Ardern is in Samoa on her way to Tokelau where she will spend five days meeting locals to discuss issues such as the impact of climate change on the non-self-governing New Zealand territory. 

Ms Ardern is accompanied by Minister Kris Faafoi, the first Tokelaun to hold office in New Zealand, and Ross Ardern, Administrator of Tokelau. 

Prime Minister Ardern is expected to depart for Tokelau tomorrow on the HMNZS Otago. The trip takes about one day.  

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