Concern over the Treaty of Friendship diminishing is unlikely
Member of the Council of Deputies Afioga Lemamea Ropati & Elisa Mualia, the New Zealand High Commissioner David Nicholson and Dr. Debbie Nicholson.
BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 07 FEBRUARY 2017: As New Zealand and Samoa came together to celebrate the New Zealand national holiday, the Waitangi Day on Monday night, Acting Prime Minister, Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa referred to another treaty that binds the two countries together, and the possibility of it diminishing.
That treaty was the Treaty of Friendship signed by Samoa and New Zealand 55 years ago.
She said, there was concern raised that as generations move on, this special relationship, the Treaty of Friendship between Samoa and New Zealand may somehow diminish.”
“However, we are greatly encouraged by a very positive trend of New Zealand diplomats coming here to Samoa, and we like to see this trend continue, as it leaves us assured in going forward in our relationship,” said Fiamē.
She acknowledged the recent changed of leadership in New Zealand and other portfolios.
“We have welcomed the high profile visits of New Zealand Government officials and in 2016, we hosted three ministerial visits as well as the new Ambassador for Sports Dame Valerie Adams,” said Fiame.
She acknowledged the two countries support for La’aulialemalietoa Joseph Parker’s quest for the world title which she believes is evident of the much closer relationship between the two countries.
She acknowledged New Zealand and Australia’s support for security cooperation through maritime surveillance of the borders and the regular visits of air force planes and navy vessels.
She also touched on the close collaboration between Samoa and New Zealand police prison services, and assistance in maintaining law and order in Samoa.
The New Zealand aid programme which helps boost “productivity through development of tourism and renewable energy, improve health and education and strengthening the law and justice system which is demonstrated through correctional services partnerships,” said Fiamē.
New Zealand’s High Commissioner HE David Nicholson whose wife is Samoan and have just started their term in Apia, also reflected on the relationship.
“The Treaty of Friendship is special as neither nation has signed such a document with any other nation,” he said.
“It stands alone, and that to me reinforces the strong diplomatic, constitutional, economic, social and cultural ties between New Zealand and Samoa,” he said.
Nicholson said the relationship is unique and characterized by a spirit of cooperation and friendship “and our countries have worked to ensure that the Treaty remains a meaningful document, through initiatives as diverse as the arts, education, health, justice, disaster preparedness, response and tourism.”
“Aside from that is the close ties between the people of Samoa and New Zealand and in the 2013 NZ census, it shows 144,000 of Samoan descent living in New Zealand.”
Samoans make up almost half of the Pacific people living in New Zealand and the numbers are increasing.
“The Samoans in New Zealand have enriched our country’s diverse cultural mix and added to the vitality of New Zealand society, sports, culture, arts and economy,” said Nicholson.