The Pacific’s stability and prosperity impact directly on New Zealand’s national interests. New Zealand has significantly lifted its ambition and investment in the region through the Pacific Reset policy launched in March 2018.
Alongside an increase in aid funding, we have focused on strengthening our relationships with Pacific countries in order to work collaboratively on strategic challenges and opportunities in the region.
An important mechanism has been the increased frequency of ministerial engagement. Following on from the Prime Minister’s Pacific missions in early 2018, the Minister of Foreign Affairs led two missions covering Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Pacific engagement across a range of portfolios has expanded, and New Zealand has hosted an increased number of Pacific leaders and ministers.
New bilateral statements of partnership were signed with Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. These reflected comprehensive discussions on development and policy issues and a more inclusive and cohesive approach. The message that New Zealand is a partner, and not just a donor, has resonated and enabled frank conversations about policy priorities and challenges. The Secretary-General of the PIF remarked to the Prime Minister on the ‘profound shift in the mindset and actions of your Government machinery’.
The Prime Minister has invited Pacific leaders to attend APEC Leaders week in 2021 and we will lead a year-long programme to link the Pacific to our APEC hosting year.
The Reset aims to achieve greater coherence across these contributions. A new mandate was agreed for agencies to provide coordinated administrative assistance to our Pacific Realm partners Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau.
We boosted New Zealand’s Pacific-focused footprint with 14 new diplomatic and development positions: 10 in the Pacific, and four Pacific-focused positions in Beijing, Brussels, New York and Tokyo.
The Ministry’s partnerships with New Zealand non-government organisations (NGOs) are important in achieving Pacific Reset objectives. We co-invested $45 million on a range of human development initiatives. 2018-19 also saw the launch of our new approach to partnering with NGOs, to increase our shared development impact in the Pacific.