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Our relationship with the Pacific
The Pacific is a vital part of New Zealand’s identity, and our domestic and international interests. We have a large Pacific population in New Zealand as well as close historical, cultural, sporting and economic ties with our Pacific neighbours. We have constitutional obligations with the Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue, a Treaty of Friendship with Samoa, and Pacific leaders generally turn to us in times of need, particularly in response to natural disasters.
We have a direct interest in the economic, political and security developments of the region. What happens in the Pacific and how we respond has implications for migration, aid and security. Our Pacific expertise is also an important part of our international profile, and regarded as a valuable asset by other countries.
New Zealand has one of the largest exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the world and a significant fishing presence in the Pacific region, which is home to an abundant population of tuna. This industry alone is estimated to be worth around US$6.4 billion a year to the region, and is critical to the economies of Pacific island nations. New Zealand actively supports Pacific nations to make the most of their fisheries resources.
New Zealand is serious about addressing climate change at home and in the neighbouring Pacific islands.
New Zealand’s formal connections with the Pacific are numerous and at multilateral, regional and bilateral levels. We engage through international organisations, such as the United Nations, the WTO and the World Health Organisation, as well as regional organisations including the Pacific Islands Forum (the Forum), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and the Forum Fisheries Agency. We also have formal diplomatic relations with the 14 Forum member countries and other Pacific island countries and territories.
Pacific Islands Forum
The Forum is the preeminent organisation in the region, and the Forum Leaders’ Meeting is the most important appointment on the regional calendar. There are a number of high level ministerial meetings throughout the year, which New Zealand regularly attends. We’re one of the founding countries of the organisation that preceded the Forum, the South Pacific Forum.
Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development
In 2014, we also introduced the new role of Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development, which supports opportunities for Pacific countries to grow their income in sectors like tourism, agriculture, horticulture, and fisheries. Former Labour party politician Shane Jones was appointed to the role.
While New Zealand is a reasonably important trading partner for many Pacific countries, the region is becoming less reliant on us as their trading relationships with other nations grow. In 2012 6.7% of Pacific imports were from New Zealand, down from 8.6% in 1995.
In 2013 we exported goods worth $1,368 million to the Pacific, more than 13 times the $103 million we imported from the Pacific. We export similar goods to most of the larger Pacific markets. Dairy, meat, machinery, ships and iron all feature in New Zealand exports to Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), New Caledonia, Samoa and the Cook Islands. Country specific exports include cement to PNG, and oil, beer, water and wine to the Cook Islands.
Money sent to the islands
However the amount of money that people earn in New Zealand and send to their Pacific home countries each year is also a significant source of income for these nations. The World Bank estimates US$300m is sent from Australia and New Zealand to Pacific countries each year. Money from New Zealand to other Polynesian countries, makes up between 15-20% of total annual economic activity for that region.
Two-way tourism has also expanded over the last 10 years. In 2013, almost 96,000 Pacific residents visited New Zealand, with almost 300,000 New Zealanders visiting the Pacific.
The Pacific faces economic and social development challenges, and much of it is vulnerable to natural disasters. It has some of the world’s smallest and most isolated states, and more than half of our aid efforts go towards the region.
We have partnerships with Pacific regional agencies that deliver targeted development across the region, and we have a presence in some countries through Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA). We’ve signed a Joint Commitment for Development with each of these five countries: the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, and Tonga. We‘re also close to signing one with Kiribati.
New Zealand works closely with regional bodies and Pacific island nations on security issues. We’re a member of different law enforcement agencies including the South Pacific Chiefs of Police, the Oceania Customs Organisation and the Pacific Immigration Directors Conference. We have also been a major contributor to the Bougainville peace process and to the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
Pacific Security Fund
Since 2003, New Zealand has administered a Pacific Security Fund. This fund aims to enhance the security environment of the region and is worth $3 million annually. It can be used by New Zealand law enforcement and border control agencies to provide training and other support to Pacific island countries. Projects funded so far include providing police dogs to the Cooks Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, and helping Pacific island countries to meet the compliance requirements of the International Maritime Organisation's International Ships and Port Security Code.
We also provide monitoring, control and surveillance tools that help Pacific island countries to protect their fisheries.
|Cook Islands, Rarotonga||Cook Islands|
|Honolulu||Hawaii (US), Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|Nauru||New Zealand is represented to Nauru by a New Zealand-based High Commissioner. Email the High Commissioner.|
|New Caledonia, Nouméa||New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna|
|Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby||Papua New Guinea|
|Samoa, Apia||American Samoa, Samoa|
|Solomon Islands, Honiara||Solomon Islands|
|Tuvalu||New Zealand is represented in Tuvalu by New Zealand-based High Commissioner Linda Te Puni.|
|Vanuatu, Port Vila||Vanuatu|
News & Events
Tropical Cyclone Ella is currently a Category 2 tropical cyclone and is currently forecast to intensify further.
Tropical Cyclone Donna is expected to intensify and make landfall in Vanuatu over the coming days as a Category 3 cyclone.
Tropical Cyclone Cook has passed through New Caledonia as a Category 3 cyclone bringing destructive winds and heavy rain.