New Zealand Relationship from Pacific Reset to Pacific Resilience

New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta delivered a speech outlining how Aotearoa New Zealand will build on the Pacific Reset towards a Pacific Resilience approach.

The $714 million Pacific Reset policy was launched in March 2018 under the previous government. Alongside increases in aid and funding, the focus was on strengthening relationships with Pacific countries to work collaboratively on strategic challenges and opportunities in the region.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters led two diplomatic missions covering Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. New bilateral statements of partnership were signed with Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. The message was that New Zealand is a partner, not just a donor. Mr Peters had also announced the establishment of a $10 million Pacific Enabling Fund.

Fast forward to 2021, and Minister Mahuta says that the region is facing an array of changes and challenges; social, environmental, security, and economic. “The move towards a resilience focus is a natural next step as we look at how to respond to the significant challenges of the here and now, founded on an authentic and values-based Pacific Way”.

The aim is to encourage others; states, economies, multilateral institutions, non-governmental organisations, and community groups towards relationships that will strengthen Pacific aspirations. The Government wants to acknowledge that building long-term resilience across the region requires an integrated approach as a collective.

In her speech Minister Mahuta outlined that a significant Pasifika population have chosen Aotearoa New Zealand as their home – one in ten New Zealanders will identify as being of Pacific Island heritage by 2026. “Those who live here actively contribute to their ancestral homelands in a number of ways. I believe that we can engage Pacific diaspora communities in different ways to support broader objectives across the region.”

Minister Mahuta committed Aotearoa New Zealand to a resilience framework with the Pacific, one that “builds intergenerational resilience across all areas: economic, planet, and people”  according the following principles:

  • Tātai Hono – the recognition of deep and enduring whakapapa connections,
  • Tātou Tātou – all of us together,
  • Whāia te Taumata Ōhanga – journey towards a circular economy,
  • Turou Hawaiiki – navigating together,
  • Arongia ki Rangiātea – focus towards excellence.

Minister Mahuta identified the following examples of how MFAT’s contributions will be realigned:

  • Pacific Public Service Fale to support Government Administration across the Pacific nations,
  • Work with MPI to provide peer-to-peer support to build fisheries management capacity,
  • Embed Pacific cultural frame work across Customs, Immigration, New Zealand Police, and Aviation Security,
  • Consider implications for the Pacific and potential overlap in domestic policy objectives,
  • Invest in the Pacific diversity throughout the organisation,
  • Build cultural competence and understanding of the Pacific region.

Minister Mahuta says the time is right for Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific engagement to move from Reset to Resilience. Resilience takes a Pacific-centric view of the collective interests in the region, shifting to a strength-based approach that acknowledges building long-term resilience requires an ecosystem-wide response. “Aotearoa New Zealand sits within that ecosystem,” she says.

Image Credit: Google