Speech at the Climate Action Pacific Partnership (CAPP) Conference, Fiji - New Zealand Statement

Your Excellencies. May I greet and acknowledge you and each of you in the language of the indigenous people of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

E nga mana, e nga iwi, e nga hau e wha, e nga karangarangamaha, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

I also greet you in the languages of Pacific Aotearoa - Talofa lava, malo e lelei, fakalofalahi atu, Malo ni, Taloha ni, Ni Sa Bula vinaka, Iorana, Warm Pacific greetings to one and all.

I acknowledge our host, Prime Minister Hon Frank Bainimarama, and President Hilda Heide. Tena korua.

To the Pacific leaders present, e nga rangatira ma, tena koutou, kia ora tatou katoa.

Your Excellencies, it is an honour to be invited and to join you to be part of this event. I am privileged to represent the Government and peoples of

Aotearoa New Zealand and I am equally proud to stand alongside each of you in taking an ambitious stand on climate change.

Our New Zealand Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern has often spoken of the priority that climate change has for New Zealand.  Last year, at the United Nations she said, “We have a responsibility of care for the environment in which we live, but the challenge of climate change requires us to look beyond our domestic borders, and, in New Zealand’s case, towards the Pacific.”

Last week our Prime Minister and Minister for Climate Change launched our landmark action on Climate Change with the delivery of The Zero Carbon Bill. We will write the 1.5C goal into our legislation, one of few countries to do this. We’ve built a practical consensus across Government that creates a plan for the next 30 years, which provides the certainty industries need to get in front of the challenge of Climate Change.

I want to acknowledge and thank the Cook Islands Prime Minister Hon. Henry Puna, and Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mataafa for presenting at our Just Transition Summit recently. Your remarks at that Summit has helped our politicians, business, farmers, trade unions, better understand the why it’s important for collective effort to tackle climate change.

We are committed to partnering with you as members of our Pacific family in the region. Within a decade, one in ten New Zealanders will identify as being of Pacific Island heritage. Pacific peoples are the fastest growing and the youngest of all population cohorts in New Zealand. I refer affectionately to this rising youthful Pacific population in Aotearoa as the Generation 6Bs – brown, beautiful, brainy, bilingual, bicultural and bold.  This generation will inherit the Pacific once we are gone. They are interested in the actions we take to safeguard their beloved Pacific home.

New Zealand recognises that we are bound to the Pacific region with our shared history and culture that goes back many generations to the first Polynesian arrivals in Aotearoa. The Maori people refer to this link as the Tuakana-Tuateina relationship, between the elder and the younger, between Maori and the people of the vast Pacific Ocean.

The Pacific matters deeply to New Zealand. I am privilege to chair our

Government’s Pacific Caucus of 6 Labour MPs, 4 of them Ministers of the New Zealand Government. There are also 3 other MPs of Pacific heritage that are members of NZ First and the Opposition party. We collectively are ambitious for the wellbeing of the Pacific region and it’s peoples.

Our renewed focus on the Pacific, which we call “Pacific Reset”, recognises that development challenges change as the climate changes. It is our aim to better understand the development challenges you are facing, your aspirations, and how we can better partner with you in meeting them.

We will increase our political engagements with you to help better

focus our efforts on working with you to adapt to the impacts of climate change. This includes improving water and food security, strengthening ecosystems, and improving disaster resilience.  The New Zealand development programme will also help improve countries’ access to climate-related data that is needed for planning and decision-making.

Clearly, no country can opt out of climate change, and none of us can address it alone. As well as working with you, New Zealand is coordinating closely with Australia as it implements its own “Step Up” Pacific policy, and we are lifting Pacific-focused engagement with a range of other countries too.  We are here to support Pacific leadership.

The importance of Pacific leadership is well known on the international stage. You provided a moral and practical impetus for strengthening global commitment to the Paris Agreement. Participation by the Pacific and other small island developing States had a visible impact on aspects of the Paris deal, including the inclusion of the aspirational 1.5 degrees Celsius limit.  I thank you for your leadership.

This Climate Action Pacific Partnership is an important stage in building a resilient future. New Zealand is proud to stand alongside you.

Thank you. Vinaka vaka levu. Fa’afetai. Kia Manuia. Kia kaha. Soifua.