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New Consul-General in New Caledonia

New Consul-General in New Caledonia

New Zealand’s next Consul-General to New Caledonia will be Belinda Brown, Foreign Minister Phil Goff announced today. Mrs Brown will also be accredited to French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna.

“New Zealand’s relationship with New Caledonia, our closest geographical neighbour, is growing in significance and diversity. As well as increasing political and trade links, people-to-people contacts including educational, sporting and cultural exchanges contribute to the relationship between our countries.

“The Noumea Accord, signed in 1998, provides for increased self-government in New Caledonia and increased engagement in the broader Pacific region. In 1999 New Caledonia became an observer at the Pacific Islands Forum. These political developments have led to strengthened ties between New Zealand and New Caledonia.

“New Zealand and French Polynesia have close cultural links. The French Polynesia island of Raiatea is considered by tradition to be one of the main islands from where the original Maori arrived in New Zealand. French Polynesia is also New Zealand’s second largest market in the Pacific, with exports of approximately $180 million.

“Jim Sutton as Minister of Trade Negotiations will be travelling to both New Caledonia and French Polynesia in March 2003, leading a delegation of New Zealand business representatives. Mrs Brown will take up her posting in February 2003 in time to accompany the Minister and the delegation.

“Mrs Brown will bring extensive experience to the position,” Mr Goff said. Mrs Brown, a career diplomat and trade specialist, has served previously in the Middle East and London. She is currently Deputy Director of the Information and Public Affairs Division, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She will replace Cecile Hillyer, who will be returning to Wellington.

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