New Zealand P.M. heading to Samoa

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. (Photo: AP)

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is poised to make her first official trip to Samoa in March.

The plan was confirmed by New Zealand’s High Commissioner, David Nicholson, during the local celebration of Waitangi Day on Tuesday night.

According to the New Zealand High Commissioner, the New Zealand Prime Minister will be heading here with a vested interest in a programme that will focus on themes such as climate change, gender issues, youth and multilateralism.  

He said Ms. Ardern has a strong interest in Samoa as her father was based here in Samoa as the New Zealand Police Liaison Officer for the South Pacific from 2009 to 2013. 

“Ross Ardern he is currently the High Commissioner of Niue. He has recently been appointed as Tokelau’s administrator and he will be coming here quite a bit,” said Mr. Nicholson. 

“So her father and mother have lived here for three years and so we understand that she has a strong interest in this country.”

The New Zealand High Commissioner added that he is looking forward to Prime Minister Ardern’s visit.

 “My personal observations is we’re seeing a generational change in politics in New Zealand,” he said. 

“That’s an age change so people like me who are at the end of the baby boomers are moving out and the new generation is moving in and I think younger people have a different world view that looks at collective benefit than individual competition.

“I think you are seeing that in the ability to donate time to go to Waitangi, she was there for five days along with some of her ministers and demonstrating the ability to spend the time on a relationship, one that has had grievances, positives and negatives in it. 

“Her ability to hear people’s arguments, think about it, process it and reflect back to them that you understand it and then think about solutions is pretty important.”

During his official address, Mr. Nicholson touched on recent political developments in New Zealand.

“New Zealand’s elections at the end of last year heralded a new era of political leadership in New Zealand, and our new Government is already more representative of New Zealand’s increasing diversity,” he said.

 “Thirteen ministers within our new Government are of Maori (9) or Pacific (4) descent. Eight took their parliamentary oath in Te Reo Maori; and for the first time ever, an MP — the Hon. Aupito Sua Williams Sio— was sworn in to New Zealand government in the Samoan language.”

Back in New Zealand, the commemorative ceremony at Waitangi in the far north looked very different this year under the new leadership of Ms. Ardern.

The world took notice with some international press reporting on the absence of the usual tensions of protests that usually accompany the ceremony.

The New Zealand Prime Minister caused quite a stir when she announced to a surprised nation three weeks ago that she was pregnant. 

She made headlines again this Waitangi Day, staying for an unprecedented five days in the far north on the sacred site, talking with tribal leaders and community groups – the longest visit of any prime minister.

 She also became the first female Prime Minister to be given speaking rights on the marae by the Ngapuhi tribe.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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