NZ to extend helping hand to Fiji’s north: envoy

The international team of envoys in Savusavu: From left, British deputy High Commissioner Paul Welsh, US ambassador Joseph Cella, Australian High Commissioner John Feakes, NZ High Commissioner Jonathan Curr and Japan's deputy Chief of Mission, Tsuguyoshi Hada. Photo: Facebook/NZ High Commission - Suva

RNZ 5:39 am on 5 August 2020

The New Zealand government will expand its assistance programmes in Fiji to help those living in the cyclone battered north.

High Commissioner Jonathan Curr says he has identified areas in Vanua Levu where New Zealand can assist.

Mr Curr was part of an international delegation of high commissioners and ambassadors that visited the north last week.

Vanua Levu suffered widespread damage during Cyclone Harold in April and Mr Curr says this is an area New Zealand can assist.

“It is quite a valuable lesson for me and discussing this issue with the Provincial Administration in Labasa. That we should be looking proactively to extend some of the assistance we provide after a cyclone or in response to this pandemic that we are still dealing with. And to think of the north as well and to make sure we are meeting needs here too.”

Jonathan Curr says the diplomats also visited Fiji’s largest NGO for women and indigenous people – Soqosoqo Vakamarama i Taukei.

The international team also included Australian High Commissioner John Feakes, British deputy High Commissioner Paul Welsh, Japan’s deputy Chief of Mission, Tsuguyoshi Hada and American ambassador Joseph Cellar.

Curr said in Savusavu, they were intrigued by the collection of crafts and products from the local women entrepreneurs.

He said respect should go to the women’s group for advancing rural women’s development through investment in cultural knowledge and skills.

“Women’s economic empowerment is one of the key priorities for New Zealand’s engagement in the Pacific.”

At Macuata, the team was briefed by officials from the Commissioner Northern’s office about developments on Vanua Levu and how their assistance would help boost proposed and ongoing development projects.

Commissioner Northern Uraia Rainima said the island had great potential for development.

Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere said the envoys’ visit indicated a new hope for the people of Vanua Levu in terms of development.

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