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Vanuatu PM to visit

Vanuatu PM to visit

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that Ham Lini, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, will make an official visit to New Zealand from 17 to 20 February.

“This will be Prime Minister Lini’s first official visit to New Zealand,” Helen Clark said.

“His visit provides a useful opportunity to discuss bilateral and regional issues of shared interest.

“In recent years New Zealand and Vanuatu have enjoyed a regular programme of high-level visits and exchanges. Both countries have been working together to develop a number of initiatives aimed at strengthening the relationship and supporting Vanuatu’s development goals,” Helen Clark said.

Vanuatu is New Zealand’s third-largest bilateral aid partner. New Zealand currently provides NZ$15 million to Vanuatu as part of its overseas development assistance programme and this is set to increase in the future.

“A feature of Prime Minister Lini’s visit will be a meeting with Ni-Vanuatu workers and their New Zealand employer at a site near Hastings”, Helen Clark said.

More than 300 Ni-Vanuatu workers are currently employed in New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, mostly in Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay. These numbers are expected to increase significantly as the New Zealand growing season continues.

The RSE scheme was introduced in May 2007 and it offers workers from Pacific Island countries the opportunity to undertake temporary employment in the horticulture and viticulture sectors in New Zealand.

Prime Minister Lini has led the Vanuatu Government since December 2004. He will be accompanied to New Zealand by the Vanuatu Minister of Youth Development and Sport and senior government officers.


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