25,000 Fijians call New Zealand home and nearly 200,000 New Zealanders visit Fiji every year and experience incredible hospitality.
This was highlighted by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a state dinner last night.
Ardern said the Fijian community in New Zealand makes such a huge contribution to New Zealand society and gives back to Fiji as well.
The New Zealand Prime Minister also reiterated that as friends and neighbours Fiji and New Zealand are there for each other in times of need.
Prime Minister Ardern also congratulated Fiji on the milestone of reaching 50 years of independence.
“We are proud to have enjoyed diplomatic ties with Fiji ever since your independence was declared and that speaks to the history that we have together now as nations. We are joined by, historical, cultural educational, business and sporting links and in particular our love of rugby,” said PM Ardern
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the visit by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is a celebration of the rich and enduring friendship between Fijians and Kiwis.
“I thank the Prime Minister for making this trip a priority, and for taking the “Pacific Reset” to heart. Through her interactions with Pacific Island leaders at last year’s PIF in Funafuti, New Zealand’s genuine desire for a renewed and strengthened connection among our regional family was clear.
“I said Prime Minister Ardern was a leader who listened –– and I meant it. In the Pacific spirit of Talanoa, we value that trait in anyone. The respect she has shown for our way of life, and her sincere empathy for our suffering through a changing climate, will not be forgotten.
“In my eyes, the humility, and the subtle strength, shown by the Prime Minister at PIF –– despite representing the second-largest nation in the room –– has proven to be one of two defining moments in Jacinda’s time in office to date,” said Bainimarama.
Bainimarama said other was her unshaken response to the hate-filled acts of terror carried out at mosques in Christchurch last year, and the comfort she lent in a time of immense fear, grief and mourning.
“They are us.” Those few words helped unite a nation and inspire the world. And behind the words stood a remarkable story of resilience, compassion and action that, I believe, set a new benchmark for how any leader can help a wounded nation heal. And we in Fiji –– with a sizable diaspora community in Christchurch –– needed that healing comfort here on the ground as we learned that three of our own were among the fallen.
“In a moment clouded by darkness, New Zealand harnessed the power of national unity –– allowing the best of humankind to shine through. Those three words –– “They Are Us” –– embody an ideal which I have pursued for the Fijian people since my first day as Prime Minister. Jacinda sees what I see: That being a Fijian or being a New Zealander is not about who you are, what you look like, or what religion you follow; it is about the love you hold in your heart –– love for your country, and love for your fellow citizens.
And when we tap into the fabric of nationhood that binds our people together, there is no challenge we cannot overcome,” said Bainimarama last night.
Today, Prime Minister Ardern will be meeting the Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat before making an official visit to RISE project in Tamavua-i-wai.
She will also speak at the University of the South Pacific at her last official function of the day.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS