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New High Commissioner to Solomon Islands

Rt Hon Winston Peters - Minister of Foreign Affairs

12 April 2006

Peters names new High Commissioner to Solomon Islands

New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to Solomon Islands will be career diplomat Deborah Panckhurst, Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced today.

"New Zealand and Solomon Islands have a long-standing relationship, including people to people links, church associations, and friendships forged during World War Two," Mr Peters said.

“Solomon Islands has experienced troubled times in recent years, and a key role for Ms Panckhurst will be to work with the Government there towards achieving shared objectives of good governance and stability.

“This month’s peaceful elections in Solomon Islands illustrated that significant strides forward have been made after the difficulties of the 2001 elections.”

Mr Peters said New Zealand was a key partner in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), set up at the request of Solomon Islands’ Government in 2003 to address problems of ongoing internal instability and conflict.

New Zealand has been contributing police, defence, and civilian personnel to RAMSI since its inception.

“Together with New Zealand’s active engagement in RAMSI, the aid partnership is an important component of the contemporary relationship. Solomon Islands is currently New Zealand’s largest overseas aid partner, with an $18 million programme and a focus on school education and development of rural livelihoods," said Mr Peters.

Ms Panckhurst is currently director of the Ministry’s Kaupapa Maori division. She has previously been posted to Malaysia and Russia, and is a former manager of New Zealand’s aid programme in Papua New Guinea.

She will take up her position in Honiara in August, replacing current High Commissioner Brian Sanders.

ENDS

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