Mckinnon To Visit Papua New Guinea And Bougainville

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

Foreign Minister Don McKinnon departs New Zealand on Sunday for a two-day visit to Papua New Guinea's capital Port Moresby and Bougainville.

"The visit will underline New Zealand's close relationship with PNG and provide an opportunity to review progress on Bougainville since the April Ceasefire," Mr McKinnon said.

"The peace process on Bougainville is at an important stage and I am keen to obtain a first hand read-out on the ground."

"I am also interested to see what impact New Zealand's $5 million development assistance programme is making on the Island.

"It is essential that basic services such as health care and education are established as soon as possible. Reconstruction of these services must continue to be a high priority."

Mr McKinnon will travel with the RNZAF, and be accompanied by independant MP Rana Waitai, representatives of a number of Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), and a group of six secondary school principals

"Young people in Bougainville have suffered in many ways, including being deprived of formal schooling during nine years of civil war on the Island," Mr McKinnon said.

"We hope to foster links with Bougainvillean high schools which will assist their pupils as they endeavour to resume their education."

Mr McKinnon said that it was important New Zealand continued to contribute to the reconstruction of the Island.

"Forging people-to-people and institutional linkages across the spectrum, including education, will go along way to assisting with the confidence building and skills development that is so desparately needed."

Mr McKinnon departs for Port Moresby on Sunday. He returns to New Zealand on Wednesday afternoon.