Foreign Ministers attend virtual Pacific Islands Forum

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Nanaia Mahuta and Hon Aupito William Sio the Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs today attended the virtual Pacific Islands Forum Special Leaders Retreat from Waitangi.

During this Retreat, Pacific Leaders  focussed on COVID-19 recovery and response, and in particular equitable and timely access to safe vaccines for the peoples of the Pacific.

“The Forum plays a vital role in leading collective action on significant issues that affect us all. The health and well-being of Pacific populations and Pacific economic recovery is of utmost importance to New Zealand,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

“We have already earmarked $75 million of Official Development Assistance to support Pacific vaccine access, including purchasing, planning, and delivery. We are working closely with Australia and other Pacific Islands Forum Members, as well as our regional partners, to ensure Pacific countries have the total support required to run successful immunisation campaigns.”

Minister Sio said he acknowledged the exceptional work that the Pacific region has collectively done in stamping out, and in many cases eradicating COVID-19.

“Today there is no issue more compelling and immediate than equitable access to vaccines for everyone in the Pacific. New Zealand is committed to ensuring everyone in the Pacific has access to a safe and effective vaccine and we will work across the region with Pacific member states, Australia, WHO, UNICEF, ADB and our external partners to make that happen,” Aupito William Sio said.

Pacific Leaders will discuss the appointment of the next Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum.

“I look forward to discussing with fellow leaders the importance of appointing a new Secretary General who can guide our collective response to shared regional issues,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

Notes for editors:
The Pacific Islands Forum is the region’s premier political and economic policy organisation. Founded in 1971, it has 18 members: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.