Minister of Defence to visit Fiji and Australia

Minister of Defence Peeni Henare will depart tomorrow for bilateral visits to Fiji and Australia to meet with counterparts to reaffirm our commitment to regional security in the Pacific and discuss ways to strengthen defence cooperation with partners.

While in Fiji, Minister Henare will meet with Minister of Defence Inia Seruiratu, in the first face-to-face meeting of this type to take place in Fiji since COVID-19 restrictions began.

New Zealand’s defence relationship with Fiji is strong, and characterised by enduring person-to-person relationships built up over many years. I look forward to discussing with Minister Seruiratu ways to increase our level of defence cooperation, and how best to support Pacific partners to work together to provide solutions to the region’s challenges,” Peeni Henare said.

During the visit Minister Henare will also attend a remembrance ceremony at the National War Memorial, and tour the recently commissioned Blackrock Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Camp, and Fiji’s Maritime Surveillance Rescue Coordination Centre.

From Fiji the Minister will travel to Australia and meet with Australian Minister of Defence, Peter Dutton.

“Australia is New Zealand’s only formal defence ally and one of our closest security and bilateral partners, so it was important to me that my first overseas travel included our trans-Tasman neighbour. I look forward to discussing with Minister Dutton how our two countries can further strengthen our defence bilateral relationship and cooperation, especially within the Pacific,” Peeni Henare said.

While in Australia the Minister will give an address to the Australian War College, participate in a roundtable discussion with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and lay a wreath at the Australian War Memorial. He will also engage with the Australian defence industry to explore opportunities for New Zealand suppliers and gain insights into capabilities relevant to the New Zealand Defence Force.

“As this will be my first opportunity to travel, I look forward to meeting New Zealand’s key bilateral defence partners and exchanging ideas on regional security. This visit aligns with my Defence priorities of “Pacific”, by exploring how can we achieve greater defence coordination between Pacific partners, and “People”, through continuing cooperation with defence partners, including identifying ways to regenerate New Zealand’s Defence Force readiness and capability in a post COVID-19 world,” Peeni Henare said.

The Defence Minister will be traveling out of Auckland on Monday 21 March subject to meeting the Government of Fiji’s COVID-19 testing requirements, and will return to New Zealand on 26 March.