It'll be all pomp and ceremony in the Fijian capital today as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pays her first official visit to the country and only the second by a leader from this country since democracy was restored there in 2014.

Ardern landed in Suva not long before midnight last night. The military forces formed a guard of honour for Ardern to inspect while the brass band punctuated the night air.

The official term for her visit is soft diplomacy meaning anything controversial will be put to one side.

Ardern has met Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama on several occasions at various conferences and she clearly likes the former Naval Commodore who took over the country in 2006. She says the stand-out for him is his love of family and says their meetings have always started with him wanting to see photographs of her daughter Neve. They'll get plenty of opportunity to admire family photos today.


The pair begin proceedings at the magnificent, colonial Grand Pacific Hotel which was restored at a cost of cost US$50 million ($79.1m) in 2014 - the year the country returned to democracy - after standing a in dilapidated state since 1992.

There Ardern will be expected to drink kava, a traditional ground root drink that looks like muddy water, from a coconut shell, before making a brief address.

From that ceremony she'll go to nearby Government House to plant a tree as part of Fiji's climate change plan to plant 30 million trees over the next 15 years.

She will then sit down to a formal meeting with Bainimarama where climate change issues are expected to dominate. Bainimarama is seen in the Pacific as leading the way. That is likely to be in stark contrast to her meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney on Friday. Morrison is seen as lagging behind other leaders when it comes to climate-change initiatives.

Ardern will conclude the formal part of her day with a meeting with opposition MPs. A scheduled meeting with the first military strongman Sitiveni Rabuka, who is now opposition leader, was cancelled when it was discovered he wasn't in the country.

Her day will conclude with a state dinner hosted by Bainimarama.

Jacinda Ardern and Fijian PM Frank Bainimarama gave joint press conference outlining cooperation between the two nations across many areas. Video / Supplied