Prime Minister John Key has announced the New Zealand Government will fund three years of school for all secondary school students in Samoa as our country's gift to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Friendship.
Mr Key met Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi at Government Buildings this morning to formalise the gift from New Zealand.
The New Zealand Government will contribute NZ$5 million from its aid budget to fund three years' education for 16,000 year 9 to 11 students.
In Samoa 68 per cent of secondary school-age young people are in school.
Mr Key said the funding would be taken over by the Samoan Government in five years.
"It is a very practical gift to help the young people of Samoa to make sure they are getting an education and they can compete on the world stage,'' he said.
"We are trying to help Samoa stand on its own two feet - it has a budget deficit and its debt has been rising, it's about 53 per cent of GDP.''
At last year's Pacific Islands Forum the Australian and New Zealand governments pledged to spend $1 billion across the Pacific on education, including funding schools and resources.
Education Minister Hekia Parata, who is in Samoa with the Prime Minister, said it was important to have well-educated people throughout the Pacific.
"We know that education has been a consistent priority for the Samoan Government as it has been for the New Zealand Government and we know there has been strong ongoing relationships between New Zealand and Samoa,'' she said.
Mr Tuilaepa said discussions were also underway on expanding the seasonal employment scheme, under which Samoan people can currently work in New Zealand for up to seven months in the horticulture and agricultural sectors.
Mr Tuilaepa said it was likely the scheme would be expanded to include trades such as construction.
Mr Key said Samoan labourers could be involved in the rebuild of Christchurch.
Mr Tuilaepa described the New Zealand-Samoa relationship as excellent and accepted a New Zealand putorino (flute) and a New Zealand Post commemorative stamp.
The Treaty of Friendship was signed in 1962 after Samoa became independent from New Zealand's colonial administration.
- APNZBy Kate Shuttleworth @K8Shuttleworth Email Kate