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Official Reception at Government House, Solomon Islands

Issue date: 
Saturday, 3 October 2009
Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, GNZM, QSO

May I begin by greeting everyone in the languages of the realm of New Zealand, in English, Māori, Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Tokelauan and New Zealand Sign Language.

Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni and as it is the evening (Sign)

May I the specifically greet you: Your Excellencies, Mr Frank Ofagioro Kabui, Governor-General of the Solomon Islands and Mrs Grace Kabui;  Hon Dr Derek Sikua, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands,  and Mrs Sikua; Your Excellency Deborah Panckhurst, High Commissioner for New Zealand to the Solomon Islands; Ministers of the Crown; Members of the judiciary; Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps; Distinguished guests otherwise; Ladies and Gentlemen. 

In the context of this evening’s gathering, may I add the greetings: Dou masi raka.

Your Excellencies, on behalf of my wife Susan and myself and my party, I thank you for the invitation to attend this Official Reception here at Government House in Honiara.  We also wish to thank Dr Sikua and the Government of the Solomon Islands for inviting us to visit.  

I also wish to say at the outset that we have looked forward to an opportunity to visit your country, a land of great natural beauty and cultural diversity.

While this is our first visit to the Solomon Islands, I count many of its people as friends.  In my former occupation as a judge and an ombudsman, I developed a number of links with lawyers, judges and the ombudsmen of this country.  This has whetted the appetite for contact in the capacity of Governor-General.

I would like to take this opportunity to speak a little of the relationship between the Solomon Islands and New Zealand and of the challenges ahead.

Your Excellencies, the relationship between our two countries is friendly, marked by many strands.  
Historically, the links began 160 years ago when New Zealand’s first Anglican Bishop, Rt Rev George Selwyn, visited Melanesia in 1849 and brought back the first of many young people for education in Auckland.  It was the first of 10 such voyages.   In 1861, he consecrated the first Bishop of Melanesia.

Those links were deepened in the battles of the Second World War, which caused so much damage and loss of life on these islands.  The Guadalcanal campaign was fiercely contested on the ground, at sea, and in the air, as the first major offensive launched by Allied forces in the Pacific.  It was the beginning of a campaign of “island hopping” that led all the way to Okinawa.

New Zealanders joined this campaign in the 1943, arriving at Guadalcanal in August.  They were firstly involved in relieving American forces that had landed at Vella Lavella and securing the island. In October 1943, they landed and successfully took Mono Island in the first opposed amphibious landing by New Zealand forces since Gallipoli.  Early in 1944 the New Zealanders attacked Nissan in the Green Islands to the north of Bougainville, before returning to New Zealand later that year.

More recently, with the Solomon Islands achieving independence in 1978, our two countries quickly moved to establish diplomatic relations. The relationship now includes regular consultations at the political level, a development assistance programme, and commercial and business linkages. 

The relationship is underpinned and acknowledged by the warm personal relationships between our respective political leaders.  The present New Zealand Prime Minister Hon John Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully visited Honiara earlier this year as have many Ministers in the years prior to now.  Those visits include a visit by my predecessor Dame Silvia Cartwright in 2004.  

The visit by the Hon Dr Derek Sikua, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, to New Zealand early last year is one of many ministerial visits both before and since.  These visits  from here to New Zealand include, Your Excellency, a visit by your predecessor, Sir Nathaniel Waena in 2005. 

Your Excellencies, my visit as the personal representative of the Head of State, emphasises not only the importance that New Zealand places on this relationship, but also its desire to further enhance that relationship.

The ties between our two countries, however, go much deeper than the historical links and high-level official meetings.   New Zealand continues to have a small but vibrant community of people from the Solomon Islands.  

Following in the footsteps of Bishop Selwyn, many of people come to New Zealand on secondary school scholarships and it is estimated by the early 2000s there were some 500 people born in the Solomon Islands living in New Zealand. Those numbers have been bolstered in the summer months by the participation of some 300 Solomon Islanders in New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme. 

While I am well aware that Dr Sikua studied at Waikato University where he graduated with a PhD, and I understand he continues to support the Hamilton-based Waikato Chiefs Super 14 rugby team. I am also very conscious that your people love playing soccer. To that end, for example, players such as Henry Fa‘arodo, Batram Suri and Commins Menapi were standouts in the Nelson soccer scene in the early 2000s.

Women have been important figures in New Zealand’s Solomon Islands community. Mary Cole, who first came as a school student in 1965, and Doreen Prebble, wife of prominent politician Hon Richard Prebble, have been active in promoting Solomon Islands issues.

Your Excellency, New Zealand and the Solomon Islands both share a common Westminster constitutional, parliamentary and legal heritage.  That heritage is symbolised in Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II being both separately and equally the Queen of the Solomon Islands and the Queen of New Zealand.  Your Excellency I look forward to discussing with you further our respective roles as Her Majesty’s personal representative. 

I have already referred to the links between the churches, but there are also a host of community links in organisations such as Scouts, Guides and the Order of St John.  

New Zealand and the Solomon Islands also share a number of international links.  We are both members of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, APEC and the Pacific Forum.  In 2007, for example, we signed a bilateral fisheries agreement.

As an old and long-standing friend of the Solomon Islands, New Zealand willingly responded to request from the Solomon Islands Government for Pacific Forum nations to participate in the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands or RAMSI.  I am advised that some 35 New Zealand police officers and 43 New Zealand Defence Force personnel are participating in RAMSI as are a number of civilians.  The involvement of New Zealanders includes RAMSI Deputy Special Co-ordinator Justin Fepulea’i and RSIPF Police Commissioner Peter Marshall.   We look forward to meeting RAMSI personnel and examining their work as a part of our visit.

As everyone here is no doubt well aware, the Solomon Islands faces many development challenges.  The last few years have been a difficult time for your nation and its people.  Those challenges include a rapidly growing population, difficulties in transportation and communication and the need to broaden the nation’s economic base, to name but a few.

All the world’s economies—New Zealand’s included—have been affected by the fallout from the international financial crisis.  But as United National Development Programme Administrator, former New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon Helen Clark, told its Executive Board in May, the recession will have its greatest impact on developing nations.  She said: 

“Alas, those least responsible for the crisis stand to bear the brunt of its impact over the longer term.  The recession is adding to the stress which very high food and energy prices had already imposed on many countries …. These global problems reflect our interdependence, and they require global solutions.”

In the spirit of friendly co-operation, New Zealand is committed to working with the Solomon Islands by assisting it in improving education services, fostering economic growth and strengthening governance and administration.  We are also committed to assisting in building capacity in the justice and policing sectors.  I am keenly aware that the Solomon Islands Government is also committed to extending services and improving performance.

In conclusion, New Zealand remains a friend and committed regional partner of the Solomon Islands and its people.  The strong and lasting bonds between our two countries are symbolised by same Pacific waters washing the coasts of both our island nations. 

Your Excellencies, I thank you again for your hospitality this evening.  To Dr Sikua and his Government, I thank you again for inviting us to visit.  We are looking forward to learning more about your nation’s plans for the future and in strengthening the bonds between us.  God Bless Solomon Islands.   Tangio tumas.  Thank you very much.

And on that note, I seek to close in New Zealand’s first language Māori, offering greetings and wishing everyone good health and fortitude in your endeavours. 

No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.

Last updated: 
Wednesday, 14 October 2009

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