Samoa will be provided with NZ$15million by New Zealand to support its climate change priorities, and a pledge of NZ$12m has been made to rebuild Apia’s Savalalo Market.
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement on Tuesday morning, at a joint press conference with Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.
Ms Ardern arrived in Samoa a day earlier on board the second flight to touch down in Apia as Samoa opened its international borders.
Her trip was to be part of the celebration of Samoa’s 60 years of independence and to mark the signing of the Treaty of Friendship between the two nations.
Ms Ardern said New Zealand will work with the Samoan Government to determine where the climate funding will go, governance arrangements, and opportunities for future investments.
“This funding will help build Samoa’s resilience to the impacts of climate change and its transition to a low emissions economy,” Ms Ardern said.
The Savalalo Market is a historic market in Apia which was destroyed by a fire in 2016. It remains at the current site and there has been calls from the local community to have the market restored.
“The market was renowned as a hub for local crafts and food, run primarily by women small business owners. It is at the heart of Apia’s community and economic life, as well as formerly being a major tourist attraction. We are proud to support the government of Samoa re-establish it,” Ms Ardern said.
Samoa’s Government made a request for the finances and the New Zealand Government responded. According to the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting communique, New Zealand is considered to be the big brother nation for Polynesian countries.
The two leaders met briefly and agreed that the key issue was climate change and how it had impacted Samoa.
The other issue discussed was the economic recovery for Samoa post COVID especially with the tourism sector which remained its key industry.
There were also talks of working with Samoa on revisiting the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, which allowed workers from Pacific Islands to enter seasonal work in New Zealand.
“We’re totally respectful for the fact that Samoa wants to go through this process,” Ms Ardern said.
“We want the RSE scheme to benefit both Samoa and New Zealand and what Samoa has identified is that in some cases where it was primarily intended to be an employment opportunity for those in Samoa who are unemployed, it has increasingly over time taken skilled labour out of Samoa.”
New Zealand came to Samoa with a member of every party that made the coalition government. The New Zealand delegation arrived on Monday and were accorded a traditional ‘ava’ ceremony on Monday.
Ms Ardern and her delegation returned to New Zealand on Tuesday.