New Zealand has sent Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs Aupito William Sio to Fiji to meet with Pacific marine ministers, and discuss issues of shared importance to the Blue Pacific Continent.
He becomes the first member of the New Zealand government to meet with Pacific island key figures since China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong completed their visits.
Unlike the visit of the two heavyweights, Mr Sio said this meeting was to build on commitments discussed at the Oceans Conference.
“I will be discussing a range of issues with other large ocean states, and aim to build upon and strengthen the relationships and conversations that began at this year’s Our Ocean Conference held in Palau in March,” said Mr Sio.
“The Pacific is central to the lives, cultures and well-being of Aotearoa New Zealand and our Pacific whanau, aiga, kainga, kopu tangata, and fanau. At the Our Ocean Conference, I encouraged progress on issues such as the conservation of our marine environments and the sustainable use of ocean resources, and I intend to continue these dialogues during my visit.”
While in Fiji, the Minister will also take the opportunity to meet with Fiji’s Minister of Health, and upon his return to New Zealand he will participate in events to celebrate Samoa Language Week, Le Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa 2022 and the 60th Anniversary of Samoa’s independence.
Mr Sio who is of Samoan descent is the Minister for Pacific Peoples and Minister for Courts, Associate Minister of Education (Pacific Peoples), Associate Minister of Justice and Associate Minister of Health (Pacific Peoples).
In attendance are various ministers from the Pacific region. The Blue Ocean commitment is a regional idea which is being backed by all Pacific nations.