PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela has arrived in New Zealand for his State visit to the country.
The Prime Minister was given the traditional Maori welcome and was honoured with 19 gun salute before inspecting the Royal New Zealand Airforce Guard of Honour at the Government House yesterday morning.
Houenipwela also held a bilateral with his New Zealand counterpart Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
During the bilateral meeting, issues based on the relations between both countries were raised.
Speaking during the meeting, the New Zealand Prime Minister reaffirmed New Zealand’s commitment to supporting Solomon Islands’ development aspirations and goals.
She also highlighted the “Pacific Reset” and what it means for New Zealand engaging more with the Pacific.
Ardern further raised regional issues of importance that needs a collective effort and support from Pacific Island countries including Solomon Islands.
Arden also made an announcement on her Government’s approval for a Prime Minister Fellowship for Melanesia initiative to provide for opportunities for young aspiring scholars from Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.
In response, Prime Minister Houenipwela reiterated the close friendship and relationship that Solomon Islands has with New Zealand and stating that “it is one that stretches well before both countries establish diplomatic relations in 1978”.
The Prime Minister further acknowledged New Zealand being an important partner in regional security and development cooperation.
Houenipwela stated that Solomon Islands welcomes New Zealand’s new policy approach known as the Pacific Reset stating that it underscores the important and strong connection that New Zealand has with Pacific Island countries.
“For Solomon Islands, more focus within the region is something that Solomon Islands look forward to by engaging more with New Zealand, seek more opportunities that both countries would benefit from and so forth.”
Following the bilateral, members of the media were given the opportunity to hear from and ask the two leaders on the outcomes of the meeting and other issues.
Houenipwela was also given the opportunity to visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum and made a presentation to members of the New Zealand Pacific Business Council.