New Zealand PM To Visit Cooks

English: 'NZ supports a number of development projects underway in the Cook Islands and this meeting presents an opportunity to reiterate our support and discuss progress on those projects'

By Richard Moore

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, June 09, 2017) – New Zealand prime minister Bill English will visit Rarotonga next week on his first official visit to the country.

English, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee and the Minister for Pacific Peoples Alfred Ngaro, will fly in on a Royal New Zealand Air Force 757 jet late on Monday night.

They will be accompanied by Members of Parliament Peter Dunne, Winston Peters and Marama Fox as well as business people and media.

English says: “The mission is a reflection of the close relationship we have with our Pacific neighbours and the high regard New Zealand places on these relationships.”

On Tuesday morning English and Brownlee will breakfast with prime minister Henry Puna and Finance minister Mark Brown, while deputy prime minister Teariki Heather and senior minister Nandi Glassie will meet with Ngaro at a separate function.

It is understood discussions between the prime ministers will focus on regional and domestic matters.

English says: “New Zealand supports a number of development projects underway in the Cook Islands and this meeting presents an opportunity to reiterate our support and discuss progress on those projects.”

On the way to attend a Cook Islands Cabinet meeting, it is expected the New Zealand PM will stop at one of those development projects – the building work being carried out at Tereora College.

An early lunch with the Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters is on the menu for English and Puna.

At 1.15pm the visiting dignitaries will be given a traditional welcome on to Atupare Marae in Kavera.

An hour later they will head for Victoria Park, Tupapa, where an estimated 100 children will be taking part in a Just Play event.

At 4pm, English is scheduled to meet with the Cook Islands Opposition before returning to his hotel to freshen up before an official engagement that starts at 6.30pm at the National Auditorium.

He won’t want to have a late night as at 8am on Wednesday it is wheels-up for the RNZAF 757 as the official party heads off to Niue where English will meet with Premier Toke Talagi as well as members of the Chamber of Commerce and tourism operators.

“Tourism is a key focus area for New Zealand’s aid programme in Niue. I look forward to engaging with leaders to discuss on-going development and progress.”

In Tonga, English will meet with prime minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva and deputy prime minister Siaosi Sovaleni.

“New Zealand has deep links with Tonga so I’m looking forward to the opportunity to exchange views and discuss how we can continue to support our shared goals,” English says.

“This mission is not only a valuable opportunity to engage with the leaders of these countries on regional priorities but also to deepen understanding and strengthen the links between our communities.”

The New Zealand delegation returns home on June 17.

Cook Islands News
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