Some of the economic and human development challenges that the Pacific faces are best addressed with a regional or multi-country approach.

We support Pacific-wide initiatives as well as ones that focus on more than one Pacific country at a time. These range from providing access to renewable energy and improving maritime safety to reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, strengthening the justice system and improving literacy and numeracy.

Renewable energy

Providing access to renewable energy

The Pacific Energy Conference was held in Auckland in June 2016.

The conference successfully generated additional support for energy initiatives in the Pacific.  International donors committed $1 billion in investments.  Private sector investment and access to climate finance will further increase investment. 

Co-hosted by the New Zealand Government and the European Union, the conference focused on investment opportunities to increase renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access for Pacific island countries.  It was attended by leaders and representatives from across the Pacific, partner countries, the private sector and development organisations.

The conference built on the success of the Pacific Energy Summit in 2013, which kick-started wide-scale international investment in energy in the Pacific, and has resulted in over $900 million of energy projects being developed across the region.

All up, it means more than $2 billion investment in increasing access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy in the Pacific between 2013 and 2024. 

Further information on the conference is available on the links below:

Pacific Energy Conference Outcomes Statement [PDF, 419 KB]

Pacific Energy Country Profiles [PDF, 5.7 MB]

Conference participants


Supporting sustainable fisheries

Coastal fishing
Coastal fishing in the Pacific. Photo: Pedram Pirnia

Fisheries are vital to the economies of Pacific island countries. While there’s been an improvement in the economic returns on tuna fisheries in recent years, management challenges, overfishing and illegal fishing continue.

New Zealand works with Pacific island countries and regional organisations to help ensure these island nations get the economic return they’re entitled to and are able to protect the sustainability of these resources for future generations.

Trade and labour mobility

Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme

RSE Workers
RSE Workers in a New Zealand orchard

MFAT supports the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE), which allows more than 100 New Zealand employers in the horticulture and viticulture industries to employ up to 10,500 migrant workers for up to seven months each year. The majority of these workers come from the Pacific. On average, the workers take home $5,500 each season - between $34-41 million in total each year since 2008. While in New Zealand, workers have the chance to undertake training (such as in language and financial management) that's not available in their home countries.

RSE is often described as a triple win, benefiting the workers and the developing country economies, as well as meeting a labour needs in New Zealand. In 2014 a World Bank report described RSE as “one of the most effective development interventions for which rigorous evaluations are available.”

Improving aviation safety

Regional aviation safety is vital to the economies of Pacific island countries for tourism and trade.

We're funding aerodrome charting and the design of Global Navigation Satellite System landing procedures for domestic and inteternational airports in 38 aerodromes in the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

We're also working with the World Bank to include the Cook Islands and Niue in work to link the international airports into a regional fixed point-to-point aeronautical communications network using VSAT (very small aperture terminal).

MFAT works with the Civil Aviation Authority and Aviation Security Service to provide security and safety technical advisers for the Pacific. 

Improving maritime safety

We're investing $6 million in the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme. This programme has been delivering safety initiatives in Tonga, Kiribati and the Cook Islands since 2012, and these are being extended to Niue, Tokelau and Tuvalu from July 2015. Initiatives include:

  • raising awareness of, and engagement in, maritime safety amongst the community, institutions and government
  • supporting maritime sector regulatory agencies to meet their obligations 
  • meeting local training needs 
  • improving vessel seaworthiness
  • developing plans for Search and Rescue and Marine to use in the event of oil spill pollution, and providing equipment and training.

The programme includes a partnership with Land Information New Zealand, which has produced electronic navigation charts covering the Pacific area (Tonga, Tokelau, Niue, Samoa and the Cook Islands) that New Zealand has responsibility for charting.

We also fund a Pacific Maritime Safety Adviser who provides specialist advice to the sector and is based at Maritime New Zealand.


Reducing the impact of non-communicable diseases

Glucose testing, Solomon Islands
Glucose testing, Solomon Islands

Non-communicable diseases include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory disease. These diseases are responsible for approximately 75% of deaths in the Pacific. They end lives prematurely, severely affect the quality of life for many more and impose large yet preventable costs on country budgets that are already stretched.

The Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are working to decrease premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by reducing:

  • adult cardiovascular disease risk by 15% by 2018
  • adult tobacco use by 10% by 2018

We support countries to do this by investing in primary healthcare services and  developing monitoring and surveillance systems. We also provide support to:

  • strengthen legislation, regulation and enforcement
  • develop and implement  educational campaigns
  • strengthen human resources
  • strengthen pharmaceutical capacity and infrastructure to ensure appropriate drugs and equipment are available.

Improving maternal and child health

Death within the first month of life is the largest contributor to under-five mortality in some countries in the Pacific. Many children who die in their first year, die in the first month, primarily as a result of problems during pregnancy, childbirth or in the postnatal period.

We partner with UNICEF to ensure that pregnant women, mothers and children in the Pacific benefit from interventions in neonatal, child and maternal survival, health and nutrition.

Childhood immunisation is fundamental to the health of children, and has an important role in the health of the wider population. Our support ensures that children in the Pacific are free from polio, measles and hepatitis B infection, and have access to new vaccines to protect them against vaccine preventable diseases.

Preventing avoidable blindness

The loss of eyesight has far reaching effects on people’s lives, often causing financial struggles, isolation and hardship. In many cases this can be reversed with simple surgery.

New Zealand supports the Pacific Regional Blindness Prevention Programme, which provides eye care services including sight-restoring operations, as well as training for local eye health specialists to provide care in their own communities.

In 2014 New Zealand provided funding for a new regional eye centre in the Solomon Islands. The centre can treat up to 11,000 people and carry out 1,900 operations each year. It provides regional support and training to eye health professionals in the Pacific. The centre is expected to help eliminate the backlog of thousands of people with cataract blindness in the Solomon Islands, and better manage diabetic eye disease in the region.

Providing specialised medical services

Limited local resources and specialist capacity means access to specialist medical treatment is limited in the Pacific.

The New Zealand Medical Treatment Scheme aims to alleviate this with its overseas referral scheme and visiting medical specialists who provide secondary and tertiary medical care to citizens from Kiribati, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Tonga.

Improving sexual and reproductive health

Pacific Islanders have limited access to sexual health and family planning services. We're working to change this. Good access to contraception has been shown to prevent around 30% of maternal deaths, and reduce child mortality by 20%. It will also improve sexually transmitted infection rates (STIs), which in some Pacific island countries are amongst the highest in the world. If untreated, STIs have implications for newborn health as well as the reproductive health of men and women. 

New Zealand supports the Pacific Regional Sexual Reproductive Health Programme to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes in Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. Our support helps to improve the clinical skills of health practitioners, and to target health promotion initiatives. 

Strengthening Pacific national laboratory systems

While most Pacific island countries have signed up to the WHO's quality standards for health laboratory services accreditation, only a few countries have achieved accreditation status. We support training to improve the quality of laboratory management services and systems, and to increase the accuracy of testing and diagnosis and monitoring of diseases. 


Pacific literacy and school leadership programme

We're investing $6.7 million in a three-year programme in the Cook Islands, Tonga and Solomon Islands to improve literacy teaching through a comprehensive approach to policy, leadership and classroom practice. The programme will reach up to 4,000 children, 180 teachers and 45 principals.

It will produce real-life evidence from classrooms to support the professional development of teachers and school leaders. It combines training, in-class mentoring and support with resource development.

Regional Education Assessment Programme

Lifting the literacy and numeracy achievement of Pacific students is a goal shared by Pacific islands countries, donor countries and development partners.

However, a lack of reliable educational data makes it difficult for countries to compare and learn from each other, and a corresponding lack of capacity in the region to collect quality data.

We're supporting the Education Quality and Assessment Programme in the Secretariat of the Pacific Community to develop and run the Regional Education Assessment Programme. This programme will collect and analyse data on students, teachers and schools to help show what's happening in classrooms and to identify the practices associated with improved literacy and numeracy outcomes so that countries can focus on proven teaching strategies.

The programme will run an updated version of the Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy test, disseminate and support the use of the data, and develop a long-term programme of regional assessment.

Good governance

Strengthening the Pacific courts system

An accessible, impartial and effective law and justice system is vital to sustainable economic development. 

We support a multi-country initiative to strengthen the professional competence of Pacific judges and court officers, and the efficiency of Pacific court systems. This will help to reduce delays in cases being heard, and improve access to justice and judicial independence in the Pacific.

Strengthening anti-corruption systems

Strengthening systems that fight corruption and preserve national integrity are vital to improving accountability and service delivery across all sectors.

We support a multi-country initiative to strengthen demand for transparent and accountable governance. This focuses on raising awareness of initiatives to fight corruption including outreach work by the Pacific chapters of Transparency International in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.