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Goff Speech: Launch Pacific Cooperation Foundation

Phil Goff Speech: Launch of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation

Governor-General, Dame Sylvia Cartwright, your excellences Members of the Diplomatic corp, ministerial and parliamentary colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Tonight, we celebrate the launch of a new organisation, the Pacific Cooperation Foundation. But it is more than that. We are in fact celebrating New Zealand's place as a member of the Pacific community, our close relationship with our Pacific neighbours and the role and contribution of Pacific peoples who have made New Zealand their home and contributed so strongly to our national identity. The Pacific is important to us. It is our geographic location.

The Pacific Islands are the source of around six percent of our people growing in a few decades to around 12 percent.

The Pacific has close links to the tangata whenua of our country.

Where I live, and in the electorate I represent, the Pacific community and culture is now a core part of our way of life.

When I travel to the Pacific, I feel more at home than in any other part of the world.

The Pacific is a focal point of our diplomatic and development assistance efforts.

It's an important area for our trade – our export trade in goods and services in the Pacific is close to $1 billion. It’s an area where many New Zealanders holiday.

There is more we can and should do to build our relationship with our Pacific neighbourhood and to foster greater understanding and cooperation between us.

This is what Pacific Cooperation Foundation has been launched to achieve.

Funded by the Government and the private sector, the Foundation will strengthen our understanding of and interchange with the Pacific through media, cultural, education and business programmes and exchanges.

The Foundation will facilitate the dissemination of information about the Pacific in New Zealand and New Zealand in the Pacific through the media and through seminars. It will promote academic excellence in pacific issues. It will assist New Zealand businesses to be better informed about developments and opportunities in the region and help Pacific Island groups and companies identify and develop business opportunities in New Zealand.

The Foundation will establish a network linking the multitude of New Zealand interests in the Pacific, to encourage greater discussion and cooperation enabling us as a nation to respond more effectively and with better understanding to regional issues.

It will utilise the enormous resource of Pacific peoples living in New Zealand to develop relationships in the region, and to encourage New Zealand's Pacific peoples to maintain their cultures and languages.

The launch of the Foundation tonight honours a commitment I made in Labour's election manifesto last year.

It was a government undertaking to do this but it is the work of private individuals who have made this possible.

I would like to acknowledge the vision and hard work of Michael Powles and the team of talented and dedicated people he has worked with to make the Foundation a reality.

I would like to thank the business community for its efforts and support and to acknowledge in particular the presence here tonight of Mr Matsui, Managing Director of Brother International in Japan.

Finally, can I thank the Governor-General for generously agreeing to host this event.

I wish the Pacific Cooperation Foundation well in its efforts and look forward to the difference it will make in pursuing the vision it has for New Zealand as a member of and contributor to the Pacific family.

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