Excerpts of remarks by Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela on the occasion of the Waitangi Day reception hosted by the New High Commissioner at the New High Commissioner’s Residence at Lengakiki in Honiara, Tuesday February 6, 2018
Thank you Your Excellency for the kind invitation to join this evening’s special occasion.
It was also great to hear you give us some invaluable information and knowledge about Waitangi Day,
Whilst my short remarks this evening will not dwell on Waitangi Day itself, what Your Excellency shared with us about Waitangi Day gives us an appreciation that the historical event at Waitangi in Aotearoa, New Zealand is also the basis and reason for our gathering this evening.
In that, what had transpired at Waitangi that many years ago, gave birth to the modern country and nation New Zealand.
And by extension the forging of formal and diplomatic ties between New Zealand and Solomon Islands as two sovereign states is also based on that historical occasion at Waitangi. Hence, a momentous event that needs to be remembered and celebrated.
Be that as it may, we all know that the relationship between the governments and peoples of our two countries is cordial, close and long-standing.
Indeed, this close bi-lateral relationship is based on connections between our two peoples forged over many years, and most recently through the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
In that connection, I note with special appreciation New Zealand’s continued development assistance to Solomon Islands in a whole range of areas including education, infrastructure, aviation, fisheries, governance, and security to name a few.
In fact the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme and scholarships programme have also benefited so many Solomon Islanders immensely.
Even so, for the RSE scheme it is an area we would still like to see more Solomon Islanders participate in and benefit from. And I look forward to further discussion to strengthen this scheme.
Your Excellency, whilst it is nice and important to talk about our two countries strong and deepening relationships, in socio-economic development, trade, politics and other areas, it is the human element or people to people relationships that are most meaningful to us islands people.
So it is most heart-warming to learn that recently the New Zealand Government offered one of our very own nationals, Professor Kabini Sanga who is at Victoria University in Wellington, to confer upon him a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to education and the Pacific Community.
As you know Your Excellency that compared with many other Pacific Islands Communities living in New Zealand, Solomon Islanders are far fewer in number.
But despite their smallness in number, to be acknowledged with such high honour to one of the country’s best ‘exported’ brains to New Zealand is both humbling and a huge sense of pride both to Dr Sanga himself and his family and to Solomon Islands too.
It is a gesture of goodwill I believe our people living in New Zealand will remember for a very long time.
However, for me, two quick thoughts come immediately to mind in relating this important honour. One, for those Solomon Islanders residing in New Zealand they can feel that they are an integral part of New Zealand society.
And two, for those of us living here in Solomon Islands, we can also claim to be making a small and important reciprocal contribution – through people like Professor Kabini Sanga – to New Zealand’s vast development assistance to our country here at home.
There are obviously other things that people can deduce and extrapolate from the honour given to Professor Sanga by the New Zealand Government but these I am sure can be best left to another forum and occasion. And so I bring my brief remarks to a close.
Your Excellency, if I heard you well this evening, Waitangi is really about people – that is, relations between peoples of two different cultures, forging a common future and destiny.
And so it is with the various ties and political relationship between our two countries – New Zealand and Solomon Islands.
The essence of these relationships is the close bond and friendship between the peoples of our two countries. We are all Pacific peoples, forging a common future and as destiny as well.
For me and for this evening in particular, the human relationships is one of the enduring legacies we can celebrate on Waitangi Day and one that also characterises and underpins the ongoing bilateral relations between New Zealand and Solomon Islands both now and into the future.