New Zealand PM Leads Delegation To Samoa

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Key to visit community devastated by 2009 tsunami

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 30, 2012) – New Zealand Prime Minister To’osavili John Key will revisit a Samoan community devastated by a tsunami nearly three years ago as part of his Friendship Treaty commemoration visit.

In 2009, To’osavili visited Samoa and New Zealand tsunami survivors in Poutasi - a village 22km south of Apia.

Most of the village was destroyed, with concrete buildings flattened, after a tsunami that followed an earthquake off the coast of Samoa devastated the region claiming the lives of more than 160 people. Mr Key was made high chief of the village, or "ali’i". Nearly three years later he will visit the same small community of 378 people to open their new community hall during his visit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa.

To’osavili will lead a Parliamentary delegation to mark the occasion. The Prime Minister has invited the Leader of the Opposition David Shearer and representatives of each political party in Parliament to travel to Samoa on the visit.

"I look forward to meeting Prime Minister Tuilaepa and members of his Cabinet while in Samoa to mark the 50th anniversary, as well as discussing regional issues of mutual interest ahead of this year’s Pacific Islands Forum," he said.

To’osavili will have a state lunch at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum where the Treaty of Friendship was signed. He will launch Friendship Week, which will include a New Zealand film and television festival, a food and beverage mini-expo and a series of cultural events and exhibitions.

Samoa has a unique historical relationship with New Zealand, having been administered by New Zealand from 1914 until 1962. Samoa gained independence from New Zealand in 1962 and signed the Friendship Treaty.

"Samoa is the only country in the world with which New Zealand has a formal Friendship Treaty - it’s a mark of our deep ties, shared values and long history of cooperation," he Mr Key. In the last census 131, 103 Samoan people were recorded to be living in New Zealand.

High levels of Samoan migration to New Zealand started in the 1950s and by the late 1970s Samoan illegal immigrants were targeted in the notorious dawn raids.

Other delegates: Hon Hekia Parata, Minister of Pacific Island Affairs David Shearer, Leader of the Opposition Hon Phil Goff, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesman Rt Hon Winston Peters, NZ First leader Metiria Turei, Green Party Te Ururoa Flavell, Maori Party Hon Peter Dunne, United Future leader Hone Harawira, Mana Party leader Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, National Party Su’a William Sio, Labour Party Kris Fa’afoi, Labour Party Asenati Lole-Taylor, NZ First.

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