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Banks declares Auck Pacific’s unofficial capital

Mayor declares Auckland City the Pacific’s unofficial capital

On the eve of Auckland hosting the 34th Pacific Islands Forum, Mayor Hon John Banks, has declared Auckland City the unofficial capital of the Pacific for the next week.

“I warmly welcome the more than 400 delegates to Auckland – the epicentre and magnet of the Pacific. Auckland is the biggest and brightest Polynesian city in the Pacific region. We openly celebrate our distinct Pacific identity and ethnic diversity.”

Mr Banks believes the visiting leaders, ministers, officials and media from the 16 *member countries and two observer countries will feel at home and among friends during the forum, 12 –19 August.

This will be the first time Auckland has hosted a Pacific Islands Forum since the forum’s conception in 1971. Prime Minister Rt Hon Helen Clark is this year’s chair.

“I encourage delegates to make the most of their stay in our beautiful city. Auckland City is in great shape, with more jobs, foreign investment and growth than ever before. We are a shining example of all that can be achieved and sustained in the south-west Pacific,” Mr Banks said.

The forum convenes annually to discuss, develop and implement strategies that enhance the security, governance and sustainable development of the member countries. It also provides the Pacific region with a collective voice for international issues.

While delegates are meeting at the Sheraton Hotel, a Pacific Islands showcase will be held at the Auckland Town Hall, 13 – 16 August. The public is invited to this major trade, tourism and investment event. Admission is free.

Memories of the 1999 APEC leaders meeting will return as the 16 leaders travel from the Sheraton and Carlton Hotels to Government House for a leaders retreat on Friday 15 August. At 8.30am police-escorted motorcades will leave from the central city hotels and head to Epsom, returning later that afternoon. Police will work hard to minimise traffic disruption. “This week provides Auckland with a great opportunity to show some of our most important neighbours all this city has to offer and to highlight Auckland’s increasing leadership role in the Pacific,” Mr Banks said

*Member countries: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Observer countries: New Caledonia and Timor Leste.

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