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PNG aid worker to visit Wellington

3 November 2005

PNG aid worker to visit Wellington

Elias Nara, from Papua New Guinea, is in New Zealand on a two-week tour of the North Island and upper South Island. He will speak at approximately 24 meetings of World Vision supporters on his whistle-stop tour, with the intention of encouraging New Zealanders to increase their support of poor Pacific countries.

Mr Nara will be speaking in Porirua, Wellington city and Lower Hutt on Thursday November 10, and Friday November 11, and in Waikanae on November 12 - 13 (details below).

"New Zealanders are very generous people when it comes to helping out in disasters around the world, and we saw that with the Asia Tsunami, and more recently with the earthquake in Pakistan. What we have in the Pacific is more of a slow-burning disaster, and in a way it's hidden from New Zealand and Australia, but the impact is devastating on the people who are suffering," he says.

"We Pacific peoples live in what looks like paradise, with beautiful beaches, palm trees, and all the images that go with holidays, peace, luxury and relaxation. But for the poor, it is no paradise; it's a life of struggle, poverty and disease."

Elias adds that PNG in particular is vulnerable to natural disasters, suffering from two volcanic eruptions in the last 10 years, in addition to landslides, floods, and a tsunami in 1999.

"Life expectancy is 55 years there and the latest UN Development Reports puts PNG at 137 on the Human Development Index. That's very low. New Zealand comes in at number 20. And development has slipped backwards in PNG and Melanesia over the last three years."

Elias is an agriculturalist with experience in farm technology and machinery, animal husbandry, soil and pasture. He has worked for World Vision in the Pacific for 12 years now, managing a variety of development and relief projects, and is currently managing a water and sanitation project in northern Bougainville.

"Bougainville is still subject to tensions, but progress is happening, especially with the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, an outcome initiated and facilitated by New Zealand people through their Government." He says Rt Hon Don McKinnon, former NZ Foreign Affairs Minister in the 90s is still remembered with respect in Bougainville for his part in brokering peace there.

"New Zealand had a huge impact as a nation on Bougainville, and you are still remembered for it," he says.

Elias has a full five-day speaking schedule in the Wellington district, with Government meetings on Wednesday 9, speaking engagements on Thursday 10 and Friday 11, and he is the guest speaker at World Vision's annual Wellington Volunteers' conference held at El Rancho camp in Waikanae over the weekend 12 - 13 November.

Elias Nara's speaking schedule as follows:

Thursday November 10 – TAWA: St Christopher's Anglican Church, 1 Lyndhurst Rd St at 12.30pm PORIRUA: Porirua Elim Church, 11 Heriot Drive at 7.30pm

Friday November 11 – WELLINGTON: Turnbull House, 11 Bowen St at 12.30pm LOWER HUTT: Petone Baptist Church, 38 Buick Street at 7.30pm

ENDS

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