ZB

Ardern and Sāmoa PM to discuss 'strategic' interest in the Pacific

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 Jun 2022, 12:10pm
Sāmoan Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata'afa, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and the official party are led onto Parliament's forecourt during the pōwhiri. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Sāmoan Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata'afa, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and the official party are led onto Parliament's forecourt during the pōwhiri. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Ardern and Sāmoa PM to discuss 'strategic' interest in the Pacific

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 Jun 2022, 12:10pm

"Strategic" interest in the Pacific and climate change will be the main focus of a bilateral meeting today between Jacinda Ardern and the Sāmoan Prime Minister.

New Zealand is Fiamē Naomi Mata'afa's first official bilateral trip out of Sāmoa since her historic election win last year, becoming the nation's first female prime minister.

It comes after weeks of rising tensions over China's overtures in the region, including seeking a wide-reaching agreement with 10 nations and its foreign minister Wang Yi embarking on a regional tour.

She was officially welcomed onto Parliament grounds this morning with a pōwhiri before joining Ardern for a bilateral meeting.

Mata'afa's visit also comes 60 years after Sāmoa's independence, and the Treaty of Friendship between the two countries was signed. It is the third visit by a foreign head of state since the pandemic began in 2020, and the first at Parliament grounds.

Sāmoan Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata'afa, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and the official party are led onto Parliament's forecourt during the pōwhiri. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Sāmoan Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata'afa, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and the official party are led onto Parliament's forecourt during the pōwhiri. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Ardern said it was an "historic meeting" for both of them, and acknowledged the anniversaries.

She said their discussion would likely focus on climate change and regional issues.

"There's also a lot of interest in our region, from a strategic perspective, and I look forward to hearing your reflections on the current situation and also your reflections as we come into the Pacific Island Forum [next month]."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leading, from left, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta, Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio and Deputy Speaker Adrian Rurawhe. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leading, from left, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta, Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio and Deputy Speaker Adrian Rurawhe. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Mata'afa said it was "only right" New Zealand was her first bilateral visit.

"It is only right to do it with family first."

She also formally welcomed Ardern and a New Zealand delegation for the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship in August.

Sāmoan Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata'afa, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and the official party at Parliament this morning. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Sāmoan Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata'afa, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and the official party at Parliament this morning. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The two prime ministers will hold a press conference after their meeting concludes.