Fiji’s new Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka is visiting New Zealand this week for his first visit since winning last year’s election.
He arrived in the country on Monday and will travel to Wellington for a day of official engagements on Wednesday.
It is not Rabuka’s first visit to the country as PM. Previously holding the office of prime minister between 1992 to 1999, Rabuka visited New Zealand in 1998.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he welcomed the visit.
“Prime Minister Rabuka officially visited New Zealand in 1998, over 25 years ago, and we look forward to welcoming him here once again,” Hipkins said.
“New Zealand and Fiji have a long-standing relationship, based on close cooperation in areas of mutual interest like climate change, and ensuring a safe, secure and economically prosperous region pacific region,” he said.
The pair met recently at on the sidelines of a US-Pacific summit in Papua New Guinea.
“While we were together in Papua New Guinea recently, it was clear Prime Minister Rabuka was highly respected and influential not just in Fiji, but also across the wider Pacific region,” Hipkins said.
“I’m looking forward to building on our discussions there, and reaffirming New Zealand’s support as a trusted friend and bilateral partner to Fiji,” he said.
“Our countries share a strong focus on Pacific regionalism, including upholding Pacific Islands Forum unity; resuming financial support for the University of South Pacific; and working with other traditional partners, such as Australia, on defence and security matters,” he said.
Rabuka will visit Auckland and Wellington and include time for Rabuka to meet members of New Zealand’s Fijian community organised by the Fijian High Commission.
In Wellington, Rabuka will hold meetings with Hipkins as well as with Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw.
He will also visit the National War Memorial and Pacific War Memorial Te Reo Hotunui o te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, at Pukeahu.
Hipkins said both countries were “cooperating closely to address climate change and its impacts”.
“Both New Zealand and Fiji are not strangers to the devastating impacts of climate change, and I again want to thank Fiji for their support in our response to Cyclone Gabrielle”.
He said both countries were working together in the spirit of the Duavata Partnership agreement, an agreement signed with Rabuka’s predecessor, former prime minister Josaia “Frank” Bainimarama last year to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.