New Zealand will deploy a Royal New Zealand Navy Inshore Patrol Vessel and crew to Fiji for six months from May, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
Mr Brownlee and his Fijian counterpart Ratu Inoke Kubuabola announced the deployment today at the third South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Auckland.
“This is an excellent opportunity for New Zealand to partner with Fiji on maritime security and protecting fisheries – important issues not only to Fiji but also to New Zealand and the wider region.
“Fiji is an Island nation, like New Zealand, and therefore protecting our maritime resources is extremely important,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Kubuabola says he welcomes the New Zealand vessel supporting Fiji to patrol its exclusive economic zone and protect its regional fisheries resources.
“The Republic of Fiji Military Forces and Fijian fisheries personnel will work closely with the New Zealand crew on board during the course of the deployment to Fiji.
“I’m pleased to work with New Zealand as one of our close partners in the region, not only to conduct maritime patrols, but also to train together and to strengthen our people-to-people links,” Mr Kubuabola says.
Both Ministers also acknowledged the positive discussions at the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting and the agreement reached between Ministers on a number of important areas to the region.
· New Zealand is working in partnership with Fiji to further our cooperation in a range of different defence and security areas.
· New Zealand was one of the first partners to respond to tropical cyclone Winston in Fiji in 2016.
· Recently New Zealand has supported Fiji with pre-deployment training for their many international peacekeeping operations.
· Fiji and New Zealand work together on a range of regional exercises. Fiji participated in the NZ-led Southern Katipo in 2015 and will be invited to attend Southern Katipo 2017.
Ministers from Australia, Fiji, Chile, New Zealand and Tonga were in Auckland today for the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
The meeting was an opportunity to discuss a number of areas of mutual importance, including maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.