Kiribati President to visit for Environment Day
Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand
3 June 2008 Media Statement
Kiribati President to visit for World Environment Day
Kiribati President Anote Tong arrives in New Zealand this week as a key international guest for World Environment Day and for a bilateral Head of State visit, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.
“President Tong will be in New Zealand from Wednesday 4 June to Monday 9 June. He will speak at Environment Day panel discussions in Wellington and Christchurch. His bilateral programme includes talks with me and ministers, and a formal state welcome by Governor-General Anand Satyanand,” Helen Clark said.
“Kiribati is a nation comprised of low-lying atolls barely three metres above sea level. It is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.
“This small nation faces sustainability and economic challenges associated with getting clean drinking water, its limited resources overall, and its rapidly growing and youthful population.
“President Tong’s visit for World Environment Day will allow New Zealand and the wider international community to hear first hand the very real challenges which climate change and other resource constraints pose for his country and its people.”
Helen Clark said her discussions with President Tong would focus on New Zealand’s bilateral aid programme for Kiribati – which in 2008-2009 will total $6 million - , and Pacific regional issues.
“Kiribati and New Zealand enjoy warm relations. I look forward to hosting President Tong on his first Head of State visit here to underline New Zealand’s commitment to that friendship.’’
While in New Zealand, President Tong will visit his former high school, St Bede’s College in Christchurch, and Canterbury and Otago Universities where he also studied. He will also visit Kiribati communities in New Zealand.