16th February 2023.
Good afternoon Samoa,
Cabinet at its meeting this week considered and subsequently approved a number of submissions for medical treatments in New Zealand, under the Samoa Medical Transfer Scheme (S.M.T.S.). Annual Reports, Government responses to important matters raised by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, as well as reports on official travels were considered and endorsed. Further, official travels were approved this week including the Government of Samoa’s delegation to the Pacific Island Forum Leaders Retreat to be held in Fiji next week. I will lead Samoa’s delegation. Matters central to the development and well being, and security of the region will be disscussed.
Following the impacts of Tropical Cyclone (TC) Gabrielle across New Zealand earlier this week, the Government of Samoa through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the Ministry of Commerce Industry & Labour (MCIL) continues to monitor the situation, with emphasis on the safety and wellbeing of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Samoa.
The region heavily impacted by TC Gabrielle with a significant number of seasonal workers from Samoa is Hawkes Bay, where a local state of emergency has been declared together with other regions such as Northland, Auckland, Tairawhiti, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Tararua District.
Reports from Samoa’s designated Liaison Officer in New Zealand in liaison with the New Zealand Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), confirmed that support and coordinated efforts from various agencies, local Iwi/Marae and especially the Pacific Community has been overwhelming in ensuring RSE workers from Samoa, and from the Pacific were safely evacuated, and moved to nearby relief centres. The RSE workers are confirmed to have now access warm beds/accommodation, and food and water supplies.
So far there are no confirmed reports of death of any of our Samoan seasonal workers. Considerable efforts and discussions have begun on how to best support affected workers in the context of the wider New Zealand recovery.
We urge our country especially the families of the Samoan seasonal workers in New Zealand to remain calm, as the government is working closely with the government of New Zealand to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our RSE workers.
Cabinet, also approved this week the progress of our national preparations to host the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Apia next year -2024.
As announced earlier, this is the first time the CHOGM will be hosted in the Pacific and by a Small Island State. The CHOGM comprises 56 member countries from across Africa, Asia, Carribean and the Pacific. This is the first meeting under the leadership of the new Head of the Commonwealth family – His Majesty the King of England – Charles III.
A senior delegation from the Commonwealth Secretariat visited Samoa in November last year, to look at potential venues for the meeting, the airport, and to commence discussion with the relevant government Ministries on the preparations, and on the formulation of a theme for the meeting. The outcomes of the visit were positive, signalling a good start to our preliminary preprations.
A National Task Force will be set up to lead and coordinate all preparations for CHOGM 2024. The Task Force will consider our preparations and readiness to ensure security of the leaders and their delegations while in Samoa, venues, acommodations, transportation and other infrastructure, protocol services, events programme and managing official ceremonies, health, finance and emergency response coordination. Guidelines for meeting our host country obligations are in the Commonwealth Blue book. A special Unit will be established in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to support the work of the National Task Force.
The community –wide demonstration of our cultural experiences premised on unity and traditional hospitality will ensure a uniquely successful hosting of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Apia next year.
God bless. Soifua ma ia manuia.