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Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett and Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee have announced that New Zealand will contribute up to $6 million to redevelop Honiara’s Multi-Purpose Hall and sports facility.

“Honiara has a large, young, urban population and ensuring they have access to sporting and educational facilities is important for the future of Solomon Islands,” Mrs Bennett says.

“The upgraded facility in central Honiara will provide a safe and positive environment for young people to engage in sporting activities and get access to health and education services from a range of government and non-government organisations.”

New Zealand has previously supported upgrades to the Multi-Purpose Hall in conjunction with the Honiara City Council. The latest funding announced today will deliver a programme of essential upgrades and maintenance, and a significant expansion to the existing facilities.

“For the past 14 years New Zealand has made a significant contribution to the safety and security of the Solomon Islands through our contribution to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Our support is now transitioning and will focus on economic development, creating employment opportunities, and supporting youth.

“The upgrade of the Multi-Purpose Hall is a project which signifies New Zealand’s commitment to the people of Solomon Islands and the young people of Honiara. It will also serve as a key piece of infrastructure when Solomon Islands hosts the Pacific games in 2023.”

Funding for the upgrade will come from the New Zealand Aid programme. Construction is expected to start later this year.

Mrs Bennett is leading the New Zealand delegation to Honiara for the RAMSI farewell. She will return home today. The delegation is travelling by RNZAF 757 and includes representatives from the New Zealand Police, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Defence Force.

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