Fijian prime minister in New Zealand for first official visit in 25 years
The Fijian prime minister is visiting New Zealand for his first official trip here in over 25 years. Sitiveni Rabuka arrived in New Zealand on Monday. Over the next several days he will meet with Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and other elected officials, while also visiting the National War Memorial and Pacific War Memorial Te Reo Hotunui o te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa. Hipkins said he looked forward to welcoming the prime minister to the country. The politician was elected last year after a close vote against former prime minister Frank Bainimarama , with Rabukas win ending Bainimaramas 16-year reign. READ MORE: * Sepuloni joins Pacific leaders at Samoa independence celebrations * Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs returns after 16-year absence * Carmel Sepuloni meets Fijian PM ahead of 'important' Pacific gathering Hipkins said Rabukas previous official visit was all the way back in 1998. We look forward to welcoming him here once again, he said. New Zealand and Fiji have a long-standing relationship, based on close cooperation in areas of mutual interest like climate change, and ensuring a safe, secure and economically prosperous region pacific region. Hipkins said when he and Rabuka were together in Papua New Guinea it was clear the prime minister was highly respected. He looked forward on building on their discussions they had there. Our countries share a strong focus on Pacific regionalism, including upholding Pacific Islands Forum unity; resuming financial support for the University of South Pacific; and working with other traditional partners, such as Australia, on defence and security matters. Climate change was an issue the two prime minister were currently cooperating closely on, Hipkins said, with both New Zealand and Fiji familiar with its devastating impacts. I again want to thank Fiji for their support in our response to Cyclone Gabrielle. Im also confident well be discussing our long history of close sporting, cultural, and people-to-people links and the work we are doing alongside the Fiji Government in the spirit of our Duavata Partnership agreement.