New Zealand and Fiji to strengthen areas of Defence cooperation
Minister of Defence, Peeni Henare and Fijian Defence Minister, Inia Seruiratu met today and agreed to enter into a Statement of Intent setting out how New Zealand and Fiji will work together to further strengthen areas of cooperation through their respective Defence Forces.
“New Zealand and Fiji defence organisations have a special bond forged over decades of people-to-people exchanges, and this visit reaffirmed our shared commitment to improving regional security,” Peeni Henare said.
“Pacific challenges require Pacific-led responses, and this was a valuable opportunity to learn and listen from one of our key partners in the region how we can further work together to combat serious challenges our region faces – such as the recovery of COVID-19 and climate change.”
The Statement of Intent will focus on three areas of cooperation:
- Maritime Security – working together on Maritime Security challenges, this includes New Zealand’s support for the development Fiji’s maritime security strategy.
- Regional response to Humanitarian Assistance and Natural Disasters (HADR) – working together to improve the effectiveness of regional responses to humanitarian disasters.
- Capacity development and training of Defence personnel – working together to discuss regeneration plans for our Defence workforce in a post COVID-19 environment.
“This discussion on defence cooperation between Fiji and New Zealand demonstrates the positive state of the relationship between the two countries,” Inia Seruiratu said.
Additionally, the Defence Ministers announced that New Zealand would assist Fiji in the development of its maritime security strategy and will put in place a Status of Forces Agreement that would simplify the legal arrangements underlying Defence engagement between New Zealand and Fiji’s Defence Forces.
“Fiji is one of New Zealand’s highest priority partners in the Pacific, and both Defence Forces work closely together to respond to a range of events in the Pacific region. These announcements are a credit to the strength of our Defence relationship, and will formalise our increased engagement,” Inia Seruiratu said.
“While we have continued to engage regularly through virtual means over the past few years, there is nothing like being in the same room as our Pasifika whānau and talking kanohi ki te kanohi. I would like to thank the Fijian people and government for their warm hospitality you have shown since we arrived,” Peeni Henare said.
Minister Henare will be attending a remembrance ceremony at the National War Memorial later in the day.