REMARKS BY HON PRIME MNISTER TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI AT THE Waitangi Day Reception, New Zealand Residence, Friday 05 February 2021
Reverend Siaosi Salesulu
[Afioga i le Ao o le Malo, TUIMALEALIIFANO VA’ALETOA SUALAUVI II]
His Excellency Trevor Matheson and Mrs Matheson
Acting Chief Justice & Members of the Judiciary
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies & Gentlemen
As we reflect on the importance of Waitangi Day for the people of New Zealand, we also pause to reflect on the special and cordial relations between our two countries and our shared history. On this day of reflection we are all too aware of a chaotic start to 2021 globally, which has underscored the catastrophic effects of misinformation. We know that rhetoric left unchecked – and amplified across social platforms – has harmed how countries have responded to the pandemic, and impacted democracy.
And as the world continues to battle the COVID19 pandemic and the devastating effects it has brought to populations and their livelihoods, we know that we are able to find solutions in partnerships, inclusive participation and collective protection in collaboration with our partners and friends. While as Leaders we were required to make hard decisions to close our borders as a protective measure, we also had to minimise the impact of these closures on our people.
New Zealand remains one of these critical partners to ensure the effective and successful implementation of our COVID19 response through; the continued weekly flights to ensure adequate necessary supplies, the support for the repatriation of thousands of Samoans and more recently the kind offer of COVID19 vaccinations for our population akin to similar commitments of assistance from our other development partners.
The ongoing seasonal workers scheme even in the thick of border restrictions continue to improve livelihoods of many Samoan families. The scholarship programs though delayed and the multiple projects especially to support the various focal sectors remain key for Samoa’s development. As we approach the end of our first triennium of current development cooperation, it is an opportune time to revisit the processes and delivery mechanism involved so we can adequately address the challenges and uncertainties, in order to build back better from the impacts of the pandemic.
We value our close collaboration at the global arena to ensure our Blue Pacific countries have a strengthened collective voice on matters of urgent priority to the region in particular climate change, health security, oceans and implementing our sustainable development goals.
Finally, I wish to underscore the importance of the New Zealand – Samoa Treaty of Friendship. Almost Fifty-Nine years ago, our two countries expressed a desire to “maintain and strengthen the bonds of amity and goodwill” and “ to provide for continued cooperation”. We continue to live up to the promise of this special treaty, which is most evident in our people to people connections and the increased number of those of Samoan descent who have secured positions in the various echelons of the NZ parliament.
Again I acknowledge on behalf of our government and people, our sincere appreciation of the significant contribution New Zealand has made and continues to provide towards the development of our nation and improving the liivelihoods of our people.
TOAST: May I now ask everyone to charge your glasses and let us propose a toast towards ever-lasting bonds of friendship and closer relations between the Government and people of New Zealand and Samoa.