Defence Minister in Fiji

Minister of Defence Ron Mark has travelled to Fiji to attend a commemorative event for the Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel who were based at Laucala Bay.

“It’s an honour to travel with the veterans of 5 Squadron who served at Laucala Bay,” says Mr Mark. “The Squadron was based here between 1941 and 1967 and during this time they laid the foundation for the NZDF’s current maritime surveillance operations.

“Just this week a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion operating out of Fiji successfully located two missing Kiribati fishermen.  It’s a timely reminder of the wonderful work these veterans did and how their legacy lives on today.

“The commemoration is being held as part of the University of the South Pacific’s 50 year anniversary celebrations.  The University does a wonderful job of educating people in the region, and I’m grateful to have been invited to unveil a monument to 5 Squadron on their campus,” he said.

Upon arriving in Suva Mr Mark was welcomed with a traditional Kava ceremony ahead of a meeting with his counterpart, Fijian Minister for National Security and Defence Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

“Defence links with Fiji and our other Pacific neighbours will continue to be a core component of our engagement in the region,” says Mr Mark. “Together we share the collective ambition of a strong and secure Pacific.

“The successful deployment of HMNZS Hawea to Fiji last year was an example of defence cooperation bearing tangible results. Through that deployment New Zealand supported Fijian military and fisheries officials in detecting and deterring illegal fishing in Fiji’s waters.  

“This week the New Zealand Government has approved the deployment of two Royal New Zealand Navy Vessels to further support Fiji’s programme of maritime and fisheries surveillance. This is a great opportunity to build on last year’s work.

“This is what our Government’s ‘Pacific reset’ is all about; building deeper partnerships with our closest neighbours and using talanoa and cooperation to tackle the toughest issues we face,” says Mr Mark.