New Zealand Deputy PM to join Pacific leaders’ special retreat

Carmel Sepuloni

New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs Carmel Sepuloni will travel to Fiji for the Pacific Islands Forum Special Leaders’ retreat this week.

It will be her first opportunity in both roles to meet Pacific leaders face-to-face and discuss regional priorities and issues.

“New Zealand is proud to participate in meetings such as the Special Leaders’ Retreat, where we can contribute to decision-making and find solutions to shared challenges,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“The Pacific Islands Forum serves as the preeminent mechanism to chart what is important in and to the Pacific, and to respond to these priorities in a coordinated way.”

A key focus of this Special Leaders’ Retreat will be welcoming Kiribati back as a Member of the Forum, reaffirming regional unity and ensuring we continue to make progress towards our shared goals.

Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka will also transfer chairing responsibilities of the Forum to Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown during the meeting.

“In the face of the increasingly complex challenges posed to the Pacific – including from climate change, the impacts of which are currently being felt here in New Zealand – a unified approach to collective action has never been more important,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“I acknowledge that Prime Minister Chris Hipkins had been planning to attend the Forum, however New Zealand needs its leader right now in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle and the devastation it has left behind.” The Deputy Prime Minister leaves New Zealand on Thursday 23rd February and returns on Friday 24th February.