Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced diplomat Jonathan Schwass as High Commissioner to Vanuatu.
“New Zealand and Vanuatu have close and long-standing ties,” Mr Brownlee says.
“In the last year, more than 4,000 Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Vanuatu were in New Zealand – representing about 40 per cent of the total workers in the scheme.
“The RSE scheme has been an enormous success over the last decade and, at an estimated $20 million a year for those 4,000 workers, the earnings have a significant effect on livelihoods in Vanuatu.
“Mr Schwass will lead the delivery of New Zealand’s Official Development Programme in Vanuatu, helping to oversee $82 million of investment over three years with a focus on tourism, agriculture, renewable energy and education,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Schwass is currently Unit Manager of the South East Asia Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was previously Ambassador to Timor-Leste.
A new sporting partnership will promote healthy lifestyles and encourage teenagers in the Pacific to take part in sport, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
The Pacific Sporting Partnership – Sports for Health Rugby programme kicked off yesterday at the Pacific Nations Cup test match between Samoa and Fiji.
“New Zealand and the Pacific Islands share a proud sporting tradition and it is great to use this to help promote healthy lifestyles in the Pacific,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The Sports for Health programme is about ensuring children learn about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle from a young age, while also gaining skills like team work and fair play.
“New Zealand is providing $4 million over five years for the rugby component, which will be delivered in partnership with New Zealand Rugby. In Samoa, the initiative will be delivered through villages and schools.
“It will introduce children in the Pacific to a fast, non-contact version of rugby known as ‘Quick Rip’, which is already popular in New Zealand. It requires no conversions, meaning there’s no need for goal posts or formal playing fields.
“A healthy lifestyles awareness campaign will run alongside regular coaching sessions and games for 14 to 18-year-old boys and girls.
“At the end of the nine-week programme, the teams will take part in a Quick Rip tournament to celebrate their participation,” Mr Brownlee says.
Samoa is the first country where New Zealand Rugby is rolling out the programme, working with their Samoan counterparts. Planning for the rollout of the programme in Fiji, the Cook Islands, and Tonga is under way.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has confirmed that United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will visit New Zealand from 23-25 July.
“New Zealand and the United Kingdom enjoy a close and enduring friendship,” Mr Brownlee says.
“We share extensive defence and security links as well as significant business and investment ties.
“We also have a common interest in a range of international peace and security matters.
“We welcome Secretary Johnson’s visit as an opportunity to strengthen our close relationship at a time when the United Kingdom is seeking to reshape its relationships around the world following its decision to leave the European Union,” Mr Brownlee says.
While in New Zealand, Secretary Johnson will meet with Prime Minister Bill English and senior ministers, the Leader of the Opposition and participate in a ceremony to dedicate the United Kingdom memorial at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.
New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell say the liberation of Mosul is an important milestone in Iraq’s battle against ISIS.
“Losing the symbolic heartland of its so-called Caliphate in Iraq will serve as a severe blow to ISIS fighters and its supporters around the globe,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Through the New Zealand Aid Programme, we’re making a further $1.4 million contribution to the United Nations Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilisation. New Zealand made a similar contribution to the Fund last year.
“In the short to medium term, the Fund will continue to play a key role in stabilisation efforts, filling the gap between liberation and long-term rebuilding efforts.
“The retaking of Mosul will be a huge relief for its citizens, who have suffered for years under the brutal control of these extremists.
“Restoration of essential services and the rebuilding of physical infrastructure will now be a focus of the Iraqi government.
“While significant, Mosul’s liberation does not represent the end of the battle against ISIS. It will be important for Iraqi Forces to maintain the gains they have made.
“New Zealand remains committed to coalition efforts. Now is the time to demonstrate to ISIS, through our ongoing commitment, that Iraq and the global coalition are dedicated to defeating the terrorist threat,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Mitchell says the success in Mosul highlights the importance of the consolidated global effort invested in defeating the terrorist organisation.
“Although Mosul may seem a long way from New Zealand, we have seen how determined ISIS is to spread its corrupted ideology outside Iraq,” Mr Mitchell says.
“New Zealand is a nation that relies on global stability for our trade and, because we love to travel, we have a direct interest in the global coalition's success.
“Efforts have ranged from military to humanitarian and stabilisation initiatives.
“New Zealand currently has up to 143 personnel deployed to Taji, providing training to Iraqi Forces engaged in battle against ISIS.
“I’m hugely impressed with the work our New Zealand Defence Force has been doing in Iraq, which I saw first-hand last month during my visit to Camp Taji.
“All New Zealanders can be proud of their efforts and know they have made a difference to the Iraqis’ efforts to defeat ISIS,” Mr Mitchell says
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations for a new international treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the United Nations in New York.
New Zealand joined more than 120 other states in voting in favour of the final text of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Some countries like New Zealand have already enacted a national ban on nuclear weapons. This treaty now provides the first legal prohibition on nuclear weapons at a global level.
“Since none of the states which currently possess nuclear weapons took part in the negotiations, we need to be realistic about the prospects of this treaty leading to a reduction in nuclear weapons in the short term.
“However, the treaty is an important step towards a world free of nuclear weapons, which has been a long-held goal for New Zealand,” Mr Brownlee says.
The treaty will be open for signature by states from 20 September 2017 and will enter into force after 50 states have ratified it.
New Zealand will contribute $1.5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross for crucial humanitarian assistance in Iraq, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced.
The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is one of the largest and most volatile in the world, with 3.1 million people internally displaced and more than 11 million in need of help.
“New Zealanders are rightly appalled at the civilian toll of this violent conflict,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Many Iraqi people are living in untenable conditions.
“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an independent humanitarian organisation, able to respond quickly and efficiently to help civilians affected by armed conflict.
“The funding will help meet critical humanitarian needs through providing emergency food, water, healthcare and household items to affected people.
“This latest contribution brings the New Zealand Aid Programme’s humanitarian and stabilisation assistance to Iraq to a total of $4.9 million since 2014,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has condemned today’s test launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea.
“North Korea has now tested more than a dozen ballistic missiles this year,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Like those previous tests, today’s launch violates UN Security Council Resolutions and is completely unacceptable.
“New Zealand has made clear its opposition to such tests and I want to reiterate our condemnation of this type of activity.
“Today’s missile landed near Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone – about 370 kilometres off the mainland. That’s about the same distance as Wellington to New Plymouth – a very provocative and dangerous move.
“I want to reiterate New Zealand’s strong belief that North Korea needs to start behaving responsibly and contribute to – instead of threatening – the stability of the region.
“We will continue to support sanctions and international efforts to address this situation,” Mr Brownlee says.
The Government has today announced $10 million in new funding to expand Pacific labour mobility, as the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme celebrates ten years of success.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse say the RSE scheme is an innovative immigration policy that fulfils a labour need in New Zealand while giving Pacific workers the chance to earn an income and gain skills.
“Due to the scheme’s success, the Government has approved $10 million over an initial five-year period to explore what other sectors of the economy – where there is continued high demand for labour – RSE workers are well placed to make a contribution to,” Mr Brownlee says.
“In particular, the Government will be exploring employment opportunities for Pacific women and develop prospects in semi-skilled, higher-income occupations.
“The new funding is in addition to $5 million for the training of Pacific workers in New Zealand and forms a significant component of the recently-signed Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Woodhouse says 10 years on, the scheme is still regarded as ground-breaking and among the most effective development policies in the world.
“During its 10 years, the RSE scheme has more than doubled from 5,000 seasonal workers in 2007, to 10,500 in 2017, and has played a key role in supporting industry growth in New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture sectors,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“It has also played an integral role in supporting economic growth, with RSE workers contributing more than $40 million every year to the Pacific.
“At the heart of the scheme’s success are the strong relationships that have been forged over the last decade with government and industry, and with the highly valued Pacific workers who are welcomed into our communities each year,” Mr Woodhouse says.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment partner on the delivery of the RSE scheme.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has today marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
“The story of Hong Kong’s economic success under the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement has been a very positive one,” Mr Brownlee says.
“This arrangement has also given confidence to New Zealand businesses operating in Hong Kong and New Zealanders living and working there.
“Today, New Zealand is pleased to join the 20th anniversary celebrations in Hong Kong and express our support for Hong Kong’s continued success.
“New Zealand has a close relationship with Hong Kong. We were proud to be the second country – after China – to conclude a Closer Economic Partnership with Hong Kong, which is now our tenth largest export market, with goods and services totalling $1.15 billion in 2016,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced an $11 million boost to global agricultural research.
“New Zealand is a world leader in international agriculture research and we want to help meet global food needs in ways that are positive for the environment,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand is committing $11 million over two years to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a network of research institutes around the world that focus on agriculture, forestry and fishing.
“Our contribution will support improved access to safe, affordable and nutritious food, reduce poverty by improving farming practices, and enhance the management of natural resources,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Brownlee is currently in Colombia for the Pacific Alliance Summit. Agriculture innovation is at the centre of what New Zealand has to offer to the region.
In March, we established the New Zealand – Pacific Alliance Agricultural Cooperation Initiative, which will engage on projects within the Pacific Alliance that could benefit from New Zealand expertise and innovation.
The initiative will provide $800,000 over two years to support cooperation activities.
So far three Pacific Alliance delegations have visited New Zealand to research areas for potential collaboration – Colombia (red meat sector), Mexico (dairy, goat and sheep) and Peru (dairy). A Chilean delegation focused on horticulture and irrigation will visit New Zealand in October.