NEW HIGH COMMISSIONER IN KIRIBATI

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

New Zealand's next High Commissioner to the Republic of Kiribati will be Neil Robertson, Foreign Minister Don McKinnon announced today.

"The South Pacific has a special place in New Zealand's foreign policy, and it is very pleasing to announce the appointment to Kiribati of someone with Mr Robertson's experience and background," Mr McKinnon said.

Mr Robertson, a career diplomat, has served previously in India, Fiji, and most recently as Deputy High Commissioner in Papua New Guinea.

Kiribati has been an independent republic since 1979. It was previously part of the United Kingdom Protectorate of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, and was the scene of intense fighting between Japanese and American forces during World War II.

Although its land resources are small, Kiribati has a large Exclusive Economic Zone of over 3.5 million sq km. About half of Kiribati's population of 80,000 is concentrated on South Tarawa, where the High Commission is located.

Mr Robertson will also be accredited as Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia. He takes up his posting in November, replacing John Mills who is returning to Wellington.