The Inaugural NZ – Melanesian Symposium
It seems that Australia isn’t the only country trying to mend broken relationships in the Pacific – and to understand why those relationships faltered in the first place.
Wellington will be hosting a ground-breaking event aimed at tackling New Zealand’s relationship with Melanesia. The inaugural New Zealand-Melanesia Symposium will be hosted by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation on Monday 29th to Tuesday 30th September and the theme will be: Tok-Talanoa: Pathways to the Future – aimed to raise issues on which New Zealand is tipped to strengthen links with the Melanesian sub-region.
The Symposium opening on the evening of the 29th will be followed by a full day of discussion concerning four main categories: political and regional relationships, economic development, security and governance, and cultural framework.
The purpose of the forum is to look at how New Zealand could improve its engagement with Mealanesia and hear from Melanesian people about what they see as key issues affecting their religion and how New Zealand might respond to those issues.
And you only have to look at the line-up of key note speakers to understand that New Zealand is serious about the Symposium:
- Sir Rabbie Namaliu: Former Prime Minister of PNG – Key Note Address
Sir Peter Kenilorea: First Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands and current Speaker of Parliament in the House of Representatives
- Mr Kaliopate Tavola: former Fiji Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and former Lead Negotiator for Pacific-ACP countries in trade negotiations with the European Union
- Mr Bernard Narokobi: recent former Papua New Guinea High Commissioner to New Zealand
- Mrs Hilda Lini: first Vanuatu woman to be a Member of Parliament, and nominee for 1000 Global Women for Peace
- Sir Paul Reeves: New Zealand’s first Maori Governor General
The Melanesian sub-region of Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia is home to over 8.3million of the Pacific’s total 9.5million people – and also has the lions’ share of natural resources.
Which makes you wonder, why did it take New Zealand so long to think up something like this?