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Happy 40th birthday Pacific Islands Forum

The Pacific Islands Forum celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

“Four decades ago, to the very day just over the weekend, our founding leaders came together to deepen their engagement and discussion on political issues of significance to the newly independent states of the Pacific,” said Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade.

The first meeting of what we now know as the Pacific Islands Forum – then the South Pacific Forum – was held in Wellington, New Zealand, from 5-7 August 1971. Key issues discussed at that first meeting included regional trade, shipping, aviation, as well as nuclear testing.

The first meeting of Forum Leaders was attended by the President of Nauru, H.E. Hammer De Roburt, the Prime Minister of then Western Samoa, Hon Tupua Tamasese Lealofi IV, the Prime Minister of Tonga, HRH Prince Tu’ipelehake, the Prime Minister of Fiji, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the Premier of the Cook Islands, Hon Sir Albert Henry, the Australian Minister for External Territories, Hon. C.E. Barnes and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith Holyoake.

“The last 40 years span a history of shared efforts by our Leaders, past and present, to improve the lives of Pacific citizens,” said Mr Slade.
“The Pacific Islands Forum’s initiatives and development efforts over this period have been pioneering substantive and, I believe, notable successes covering the whole spectrum of modern development.”

Mr Slade added that the catalogue of what needs to be done, in each Forum country, and across the region, remains long and the myriad of tasks exceedingly difficult.
“This milestone anniversary presents an important opportunity to not only celebrate our efforts and endeavours to date, but to also seek from our Leaders further guidance on the way forward.”

Pacific Islands Forum 40th Anniversary Leaders’ Lecture Series

The “Pacific Islands Forum 40th Anniversary Leaders’ Lecture Series, with a focus on the Pacific Plan” is an opportunity for Forum Leaders to mark a major milestone for the region by addressing and expressing their personal and country viewpoints on the Pacific Plan, explained Mr Slade.

The Pacific Plan is the master strategy agreed by Forum Leaders in 2005 declaring their Vision for ‘a region of peace, harmony, security and economic prosperity, so that all of its people can lead free and worthwhile lives’.
“During this anniversary year it is important for Pacific people to hear from Forum Leaders on how we are faring with the Pacific Plan and its implementation, and whether it is setting the right directions for the region and attainment of the Leaders’ Vision.”

Prime Ministers of Vanuatu and Samoa have delivered lectures as part of the Lecture Series, with the New Zealand Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. John Key, MP, to deliver the next in Auckland next week.
The Pacific Islands Forum and its Secretariat

The Pacific Islands Forum and its Secretariat

The Pacific Islands Forum was founded in 1971 as the South Pacific Forum. In 2000, the name was changed to the Pacific Islands Forum to better reflect the geographic location of its members in the north and south Pacific.
Founding members of the Pacific Islands Forum were Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand, Tonga and Western Samoa – now Samoa.

Members include Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshal Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The Secretariat to the Forum was initially established as a trade bureau in 1972 and later became the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation (SPEC). In 2000, when the name of the Forum changed, the Secretariat became the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

New Caledonia and French Polynesia, previously Forum Observers, were granted Associate Membership in 2006. Forum Observers include Tokelau (2005), Wallis and Futuna (2006), the Commonwealth (2006), the United Nations (2006) the Asia Development Bank (2006) and the World Bank (2010), with Timor Leste as Special Observer (2002).

The annual Forum meetings are chaired by the Head of Government of the Host Country (currently Vanuatu), who remains as Forum Chair until the next meeting.
The next meeting of Pacific Islands Forum Leaders will be held in Auckland, New Zealand from 6-9 September 2011.

For further information please contact the Forum Secretariat's Communications Officer, Mue Bentley Fisher, via email:


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