Why NZ has focus on Pacific

NEW Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters gave a powerful commentary on why his country and Australia should pay more attention to nurturing strong and healthy relationships in the Pacific.
Why NZ has focus on Pacific Why NZ has focus on Pacific Why NZ has focus on Pacific Why NZ has focus on Pacific Why NZ has focus on Pacific

Winston Peters

Staff Reporter

Speaking at a Lowy Institute event in Australia he said: "We see in 2018 a region challenged by a dizzying array of social and environmental problems, and one attracting an increasing number of external actors and interests.
"So much is changing in the Pacific, and sometimes it is not for the best. Need and temptation often leads to greater risk than prudence would suggest.
"Yet it is also a region of opportunity and empowerment where Pacific countries want to stand on their own two feet as equals, make their own choices, and have their distinctive voices heard on the global stage. 
"And for all these reasons we regard it as critical for New Zealand to embark on a new, re-energised Pacific strategy," Peters said.
He highlighted the visit by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to Auckland recently in which underscored the Trans-Tasman shared instincts for the Pacific region.
"Our collective response, for example, to Tropical Cyclone Gita was a visible demonstration of how Australia and New Zealand work seriously well together."
Peters said there were three reasons why the Pacific was so important to New Zealand.
• Pacific identity, and in particular New Zealand's Polynesian character: There is greater interconnectedness between New Zealand and the countries of Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, and Tonga than any others in the world, with the possible exception of Australia.
• National security: The modern world opens trans-boundary security challenges, including gangs; criminal deportations; drug production and distribution; cyber and financial crime; and aviation and border security. New Zealand's national security is directly affected by the Pacific's stability.
• Shared prosperity: Pacific Island countries with improved economic and social well-being create opportunities for themselves to improve their resilience and self-reliance. New Zealand seeks to assist Pacific Island countries to achieve sustainable economic growth and improved public financial management as the primary engines of lifting living standards and funding vital government services.


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