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Goff leads delegation on Pacific trip

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

27 March 2005
Media statement

Goff leads delegation on Pacific trip

Foreign Minister Phil Goff will lead a 75-strong delegation of MPs, business people, NGOs, academics, media, officials and a cultural group on a six-day visit to New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Rapa Nui next week.

The visit, which begins on Tuesday, will include meetings with New Caledonian President Marie-Noelle Themereau, French Polynesian President Oscar Temaru, and other key leaders in both territories, as well as meeting with the Governor and mayor in Rapa Nui (Easter Island), which is a part of Chile.

Delegation members will talk to their counterparts in the elected assemblies, business, education and cultural areas.

"Taking a delegation to the Pacific each year helps introduce New Zealand opinion makers to the region, and to increase their knowledge and understanding of the issues it faces," Mr Goff said.

“This visit will focus on strengthening our relationship with New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Rapa Nui, and it will underline New Zealand's support for their closer engagement in the Pacific.

"It will also give me an opportunity to talk at a government level with political leaders, and the delegation a chance to make a wide range of contacts at a people-to-people level.

“New Caledonia is New Zealand’s closest neighbour, while we share close indigenous cultural linkages with French Polynesia and Rapa Nui. French Polynesia’s Raiatea Island is considered one of the main islands from where New Zealand’s original Maori came, and there are linguistic similarities between the indigenous French Polynesia and Rapa Nui languages and Maori.

“New Caledonia and French Polynesia have both recently seen significant changes in leadership and government. This visit provides opportunity to meet the new leaders and introduce a wide range of New Zealanders to our friends in the French Pacific and Rapa Nui.”

"New Caledonia and French Polynesia are significant markets for New Zealand, taking in nearly $290 million worth of our exports last year. A trade mission forms part of the delegation and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have organised an extensive promotional programme for New Zealand goods and services in New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

"Our relationship with the French Pacific territories is also an important strand in our relationship with France," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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