Prime Minister Bill English has announced New Zealand support for a range of infrastructure projects that will benefit local communities and sustainably support increasing tourist numbers in the Cook Islands.
“New Zealand is committing $15 million of funding towards the Manatua submarine cable between Samoa and French Polynesia. When completed it will link Rarotonga and Aitutaki to faster, low-cost, internet that is essential for economic and social development,” Mr English says.
New Zealand has also signed an $8.8 million funding agreement with the Cook Islands for the design of a new reticulated wastewater system for Muri and Avana.
“Well managed, modern wastewater services are important for public health and to protect precious lagoon environments.
“More than 140,000 tourists are expected this year, and infrastructure needs to be robust to ensure that the impact on local services and the environment is sustainable.
“Both internet connectivity and clean, safe water are also vital for the Cook Islands’ tourism industry,” Mr English says.
The Prime Minister made the announcements in the Cook Islands as part of the 2017 Pacific Mission.
Prime Minister Bill English today congratulated Theresa May on her re-election as British Prime Minister.
"I spoke to Theresa May last night and congratulated her on forming a government,” says Mr English.
“New Zealand and the United Kingdom work closely on many fronts. We have a deep and enduring friendship and share interests which span close defence and security cooperation, strong people to people links, and the promotion of open economies.
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Mrs May as Britain embarks on the next chapter of its storied history.”
Prime Minister Bill English will travel to the Cook Islands, Niue and Tonga next week leading a delegation of New Zealand Pasifika community leaders, iwi and business representatives.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee and the Minister for Pacific Peoples Alfred Ngaro will accompany the Prime Minister, alongside leaders and representatives of parties from across the House.
“The mission is a reflection of the close relationship we have with our Pacific neighbours and the high regard New Zealand places on these relationships,” Mr English says.
“In the Cook Islands I will meet with Prime Minister Puna and Cabinet Ministers to discuss a range of regional and domestic matters.
“New Zealand supports a number of development projects underway in the Cook Islands and this meeting presents an opportunity to reiterate our support and discuss progress on those projects.”
In Niue, Mr English will meet with Premier Talagi as well as members of the Chamber of Commerce and tourism operators.
“Tourism is a key focus area for New Zealand’s aid programme in Niue. I look forward to engaging with leaders to discuss on-going development and progress.”
In Tonga, Mr English will meet with Prime Minister Pohiva and Deputy Prime Minister Sovaleni.
“New Zealand has deep links with Tonga so I’m looking forward to the opportunity to exchange views and discuss how we can continue to support our shared goals.
“This mission is not only a valuable opportunity to engage with the leaders of these countries on regional priorities but also to deepen understanding and strengthen the links between our communities,” Mr English says.
The delegation departs New Zealand on Tuesday 13 June and returns on Saturday 17 June.
Prime Minister Bill English has condemned the latest terror attack in London and reiterated New Zealand’s commitment to the international fight against violent extremism.
“Too many lives are being taken by terrorists set on inflicting pain and suffering on innocent people,” says Mr English.
“No one should be forced to live in fear, no matter their race or religion, their politics or their beliefs.
“The international community must continue its efforts to combat terror and to degrade those who seek to inflict it and New Zealand remains committed to playing its part.
“New Zealand’s thoughts are with the victims of today’s attack, along with their families and friends. Our hearts go out to you.”
Mr English says Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee has also written to his UK counterpart, Boris Johnson to express New Zealand’s condolences.
New Zealand is to put $6.1m towards expanding specialist health services and addressing non-communicable diseases in Samoa, Prime Minister Bill English says.
Mr English announced the funding, to be spread over five years, during a visit to Tupua Tamasese National Hospital, in Apia today. While at the hospital, Mr English met with patients and staff, and had the opportunity to see first-hand how New Zealand’s investments in infrastructure and support of the national health system are benefitting the people of Samoa.
The new programme includes more support for telemedicine, funding for the specialist treatment of Samoan patients in New Zealand hospitals, and support to address non-communicable diseases, and reproductive, maternal, new-born and child health.
“The health of the Samoan population is improving overall. Life expectancy has increased and is the highest in the Pacific. Infant and child mortality rates are also low relative to other countries with similar incomes and per capita health spending. But serious challenges still remain, including the death and disability caused by chronic and non-communicable diseases,” Mr English says.
“Samoa is making impressive strides in areas such as maternal and child health, but we can provide more help by supporting the Samoan system to deliver quality and equitable health services.”
The assistance builds on the strengths of the existing partnership between Counties Manukau Health and Samoa’s National Health Service, and will improve both access to and the quality of health services for local communities.
Chocolate lovers and Samoan cocoa growers will both benefit from a $4.8m, five-year programme of support for Samoa’s cocoa industry, Prime Minister Bill English announced in Samoa today.
“Samoa has ideal conditions to produce larger amounts of high value, chocolate-grade cocoa,” Mr English says.
Samoa exported about 5000 tonnes of cocoa annually during the 1960s, but exports have since declined to only 40 to 50 tonnes a year.
“Now there is a cocoa renaissance taking place in Samoa and New Zealand is very pleased to be able to contribute to it,” Mr English says.
The New Zealand investment is intended to help Samoa achieve its goal of developing a thriving, sustainable, resilient and inclusive agricultural sector, with a particular focus on local crops where smallholders have a comparative edge.
“The funding will provide practical help for farmers by establishing grafting nurseries and providing training on grafting and growing cocoa plants,” Mr English says.
“Furthermore, it will provide on-farm training in plantation management, harvesting and processing. New processing facilities on Upolu and Savaii will be developed, and the industry will be helped to establish a national cocoa association and develop an industry strategy.”
The five-year programme will complement various other small-scale initiatives currently under way within the Samoan cocoa industry. New Zealand is already co-funding a targeted initiative in Samoa with J.H. Whittakers and Sons, to improve production and processing.
This programme has enabled Samoa’s largest cocoa exporter, Va’ai Plantations to lift the quality and quantity of cocoa it supplies.
Va’ai Plantation now supplies 30 tonnes of cocoa a year for Whittaker’s ‘Single Origin Samoan Cacao’ block and intends to double exports by the end of 2018.
New Zealand is to contribute $7.3 million towards boosting Samoan tourism, Prime Minister Bill English announced today.
Mr English announced the funding on the first day of a visit to Samoa to mark the 55th anniversary of the country’s independence.
“New Zealand and Samoa have deep and extensive ties and helping Samoa to develop its tourism industry is a way to further strengthen relations between our countries,” Mr English says.
“Increasing tourism will increase economic growth and improve livelihoods in Samoa.”
The funding will be used to promote Samoa as a tourist destination, provide additional training to tourism workers, and upgrade tourism sites and attractions on the main islands of Savai’i and Upolu.
This newly announced funding will supplement work to upgrade the Apia waterfront. New Zealand’s support will help redevelop the Savalalo Market, revamp the central Apia event space, and build a clock-tower boulevard. A seaside lookout and pedestrian boardwalks will improve access and flow to the foreshore.
“Increasing Samoa’s attractiveness as a tourist destination will create jobs and business opportunities, and connect communities and visitors with Samoan heritage and culture,” Mr English says.
“Samoa has an enormous amount to offer international visitors, and New Zealand wants to help the tourism sector grow.”
Prime Minister Bill English will visit Samoa this week for the country’s 55th Independence Day celebrations.
“The visit will be an opportunity to reaffirm the special relationship that exists between our countries and will include a celebration of 55 years of our Treaty of Friendship,” Mr English says.
“I am looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Tuilaepa and discussing a wide range of political and economic issues including the Pacific Islands Forum, which Samoa will host in September. Samoa is an important bilateral partner for New Zealand and we greatly value its leadership in the region.”
The Prime Minister will also visit projects supported with New Zealand development assistance and will meet with key representatives from Samoa’s government, private, NGO and community sectors. He will then join Prime Minister Tuilaepa at the Blues vs Reds Super Rugby match, the first Super Rugby game to be played in Samoa.
Mr English departs for Samoa on May 31 and returns on June 3.
Note for editors: The Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa was signed on 1 August 1962, seven months after Samoa gained full independence. Samoa is the only nation with which New Zealand enjoys a Treaty of Friendship. The treaty contains seven articles that emphasise the closeness of the relationship and recognise “friendship, confidence, and a mutual endeavour to obtain for their peoples fuller opportunities for social progress”.
Budget 2017 shares the benefits of growth by improving public services, investing in the infrastructure needed for a growing country, reducing debt and lifting incomes, Prime Minister Bill English says.
“This is a budget that delivers for New Zealanders from a government that cares about people and knows how to get things done,” Mr English says.
“Our ninth Budget shows continuing improvement in the Government’s books and solid economic growth expected to average 3.1 per cent over the next five years.
“That translates to more jobs and higher incomes and gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to raise living standards for all New Zealanders. This Budget sets out the next steps in our plan to do that.”
Mr English says the $2 billion per year Family Incomes Package will help hard working New Zealanders get ahead by adjusting income tax thresholds, while also increasing Working for Families and providing additional support for people on low incomes with high accommodation costs.
“The Package will lift the incomes of 1.3 million families by an average of $26 a week. It is expected to lift 20,000 families above the threshold for severe housing stress, and reduce the number of children living in families receiving less than half the median income by around 50,000,” Mr English says.
“We are determined to seize the opportunity presented by a growing economy to permanently shift the country onto a more prosperous path.
“To that end Budget 2017 invests $4 billion to help build the public infrastructure we need as a growing economy, as well as additional funding to strengthen the Business Growth Agenda to help drive further economic growth, create jobs and lift wages.”
“But that is not the limit of the Government’s ambition. We are committed to improving the lives of vulnerable New Zealanders.
“As part of the $7 billion new investment in public services like health, education and law and order over the next four years, Budget 2017 includes $321 million in Social Investment initiatives to help the most at-risk New Zealanders become more independent,” Mr English says.
“All New Zealanders deserve the opportunity to make the most of their potential, but we cannot provide that opportunity without a growing economy.
“This Government will build on the economic success of the past few years by continuing to run sound fiscal and economic policy and by enhancing the competitiveness of Kiwi businesses.
“The better our businesses do, the more opportunity we have to make a positive difference to people’s lives.”
Prime Minister Bill English has announced the Australian Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, will make a State visit to New Zealand next week.
Sir Peter will be accompanied by his wife, Lady Cosgrove, while here from Wednesday 31 May to Saturday 3 June.
“Sir Peter’s visit continues the close engagement between New Zealand and Australia,” Mr English says.
“It follows the trip to New Zealand in February by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and this month’s visit to Australia by Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee.”
It also reciprocates former Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine’s State visit to Australia in May 2015.”
The Governor-General’s visit will include engagements in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Kaikoura and Stewart Island.