Cablegate: Codel Faleomavaega Stresses Usg Support for Pacific; Strong

DE RUEHWL #0055/01 0520104
R 210104Z FEB 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary. Codel Faleomavaega visited New Zealand from
January 31 to February 7. In Auckland, the Codel met with ConGen
staff to discuss consular issues and traveled to Whangarei for the
Waitangi Day celebrations on February 5-6. On February 4, the Codel
held meetings in Wellington with Minister for Pacific Island Affairs
Winnie Laban and Minister for Climate Change David Parker, and paid
a courtesy call on the Ambassador. The Ambassador welcomed the
Codel's visit and Congressman Faleomavaega's longstanding interest
in Pacific affairs; he urged the Congressman to promote renewed
Congressional engagement through the Asia Pacific Parliamentary
Forum (APPF). The Codel also visited the Maori Language Commission
and heard of the Commission's ongoing efforts to increase Maori
fluency among Maori peoples as well as more broadly within New
Zealand society. In all of his meetings, the Codel underscored the
warm US-NZ bilateral relationship and USG interest in East Asia,
particularly in the Pacific Islands. End Summary.

Remote Visa Processing for Samoan Applicants

2. (U) On February 1, Congressman Faleomavaega met with Consul
General John Desrocher and Consular Chief Nick Greanias in ConGen
Auckland offices. The principal subject of discussion was the
Remote NIV Adjudication Program in Independent Samoa, wherein a
conoff from Auckland visits Apia every quarter for one week for the
sole purpose of doing NIV interviews. Congressman Faleomavaega, who
had pushed hard for the institution of the program in late 2006,
said he wanted to make sure the program was running well and
requested a progress report. In a wide-ranging discussion, all
participants agreed that it was functioning as intended, saving 125
Samoan residents every three months the expense and trouble of a
trip to Auckland or elsewhere for an NIV interview. Everyone also
agreed on the need to seek out any technical improvements that
speeded up the interviews on Apia. For example, if local systems
capacity increased to enable a conoff to conduct an interview in six
minutes - still a very long time by consular standards - from the
current 12 minutes, the capacity each week in Apia would at least
double, thereby matching present need. Desrocher and Greanias
promised to keep Faleomavaega posted on any developments in this
area. The Congressman noted that he was getting numerous inquiries
from constituents asking if their Tongan spouses could take
advantage of the program. Greanias confirmed that there is nothing
barring Tongans in Samoa from seeking visas in Apia, but that few
have taken advantage of remote processing so far.

3. (SBU) On February 7, Codel Faleomavaega met with GNZ Minister
for Pacific Island Affairs Winnie Laban. Congressman Faleomavaega
noted that, in his capacity as Chairman of Asia and Pacific
Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he is
interested in pursuing stronger USG engagement in the region and
greater Washington focus on the Pacific Island nations. The
Congressman thanked New Zealand for its cooperation with the US,
noting that remittances and trade from New Zealand to the Pacific
has contributed to stability. He added that despite the modest
population of the island countries, the region supplies over half of
the world's tuna and seabed mineral mining may be economically
viable in the future. East Asia is the U.S.' largest trading
partner and the USG military plays a key role in regional stability
and security.

4. (SBU) Minister Laban responded that she remains optimistic
about the Pacific region's future and commended the positive US-NZ
bilateral relationship. New Zealand is a small country, but wants
to support sustainable development among the island nations. She
added that the NZ Business Council will host a business exposition
in Auckland from March 5-6 to promote the private sector of the
Pacific Islands. Laban pointed to two-way trade as a hallmark of
New Zealand's approach to helping the islands strengthen their
economies. One-way trade will only foster continued aid dependency,
she said. Congressman Faleomavaega stressed the need for better
education and improved management of fisheries; he commented that
the leasing arrangements of some islands are not equitable. The
Congressman discussed prospects for aquaculture development using
Israeli research models.

5. (SBU) In his meeting with Minister for Climate Change David
Parker, Congressman Faleomavaega applauded the Clark government's
proposed climate change policy. Minister Parker said that the GNZ
supported the USG position that developing countries need to
contribute; equivalent effort is a sound principle. He argued that
developed countries need to discuss capital flows to the developing
world and how best to promote clean development. There are policies
and cheap fixes that might be achieved through legislation and
regulatory framework - developed countries should not have to

WELLINGTON 00000055 002 OF 003

finance everything. Parker deplored the attitude of some attendees
at Bali that the developed world should foot the bill for climate
change. For New Zealand, the country can do well on the energy
front as New Zealand is blessed with renewable energy resources,
continued Parker.

6. (SBU) Congressman Faleomavaega outlined his role on the global
environment within the House of Representatives, and informed Parker
that he would hold hearings on vulnerable islands in the next month.
Tuvalu is one example of a low-lying country that could be in a
dangerous situation as the ocean rises, and the Congressman promised
to stay in touch with the GNZ on these issues. Parker responded
that such countries must pursue adaptation, look to new technologies
such as solar energy, and rethink subsidies that damage their energy
policies. US companies are starting to do more with innovative
technologies, and Parker cited one US venture capitalist fund
financing solar technology research with mirrors vice photovoltaic
cells. Parker summed up by saying that the world is not short of
energy, but people are focused on using the wrong technologies.
Protection of natural resources, e.g., fisheries, is often sidelined
due to corruption, the Minister added.

Ambassador, Codel Discuss US-NZ Bilateral Relations
--------------------------------------------- ------

7. (SBU) During a February 4 courtesy call, the Ambassador
welcomed Faleomavaega's visit, outlined the positive areas of
bilateral engagement with New Zealand (e.g., Afghanistan, science
and technology, Antarctica) and briefed the Congressman on USTR's
recent P-4 announcement. He welcomed his interest in Maori language
preservation in New Zealand, describing it as the "gold standard."
Congressman Faleomavaega agreed that the nuclear issue should no
longer detract from strengthening bilateral ties, and mentioned
prospects for a fiber optic broadband line in Samoa. He and the
Ambassador discussed the need for greater fisheries protection in
the southern Pacific, aquaculture development and issues surrounding
canneries in the Pacific islands. The Ambassador urged that
Congress re-engage with the region through the Asia Pacific
Parliamentary Forum (APPF).

Maori Language: Model for Indigenous Language Promotion
--------------------------------------------- ---------

8. (U) At the Maori Language Commission, Faleomavaega met with
Huhana Rokx, Chief Executive of the Commission, who was accompanied
by a number of staff members. Congressman Faleomavaega explained
his interest in developing stronger ties with the Commission due to
identifying best practices that might be useful for Samoan language
preservation. The Congressman noted the growing lack of Samoan
language knowledge among Samoan youth; there may be applications for
Native American languages as well. Language is the umbilical cord
that ties people to their culture, noted the Congressman, who added
that the Hawaiian language is making a resurgence.

9. (U) CEO Rokx briefed the Congressman on the Commission's
progress in launching the publication of a Maori dictionary as the
first step towards a more thorough research of the origins of the
Maori language and its relationship to other Polynesian languages.
The CEO underscored the close working relationship that the
Commission has with the education sector, which has been key to
language revitalization efforts. The Commission is also stressing
intergenerational use of language within the home, increased adult
education, and the use of radio and television to increase home
exposure to the Maori language. Rokx said the Commission,
established in 1987, remains focused on increasing Maori language
literacy. When 80 percent of the Maori population is involved in
achieving some level of fluency, then the Commission's work will be
well on its way, she noted. One of the limiting factors at present
is the lack of skilled Maori language instructors.

Waitangi Day

10. (SBU) On February 5 and 6, Codel Faleomavaega and conoff
traveled to Waitangi, northern New Zealand, to participate in events
surrounding Waitangi Day, New Zealand's de facto national day. The
Codel attended the Governor-General's receptions in Waitangi on
February 5 and had a private dinner that night with Foreign Minister
Winston Peters. During the reception, Faleomavaega had pull-aside
meetings with Prime Minister Helen Clark, opposition leader John
Key, and Minister of (among other portfolios) Youth Namia Mahuta.
All these meetings kept in the general spirit of emphasizing ways
for the relationship between New Zealand and the United States to
grow in understanding and mutual benefit. The dinner with Peters,

WELLINGTON 00000055 003 OF 003

an old friend of the Congressman, was highly convivial. The single
policy message between the two principals was the shared concern
that the United States should be better represented in Pacific
matters; in the resulting vacuum, China and Taiwan have played a
stronger role.

11. (SBU) Codel Faleomavaega did not have the opportunity to clear
this message.


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