Climate change and trans-national crime have been top of the agenda for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on her first official trip to Fiji.
It’s the first time in years a New Zealand prime minister has received a genuinely warm welcome in Fiji.
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s red-carpet treatment for Ms Ardern is a far cry from the frosty reception he’s reserved for past New Zealand leaders.
“I believe our world maybe needs more leaders like Jacinda,” Mr Bainimarama said today.
Climate change has been one of the shared issues that has given Fiji and New Zealand common ground.
“Please consider us partners as we work together not just in our region but globally,” Ms Ardern said.
Another shared goal is stamping out the methamphetamine trade in both countries. Ms Ardern today revealed details of a joint police taskforce between the two nations which New Zealand will be contributing $11 million towards.
The two leaders released a joint statement today, stating in part: “The Prime Ministers welcomed the expansion of government-to-government links, which has seen cooperation flourish across a range of sectors.
“Including peace and security, climate change and disaster resilience, labour mobility, agriculture and fisheries, economic reform, and advocacy on Pacific issues.”
However, University of Canterbury Pacific studies Professor Steven Ratuva, warned the relationship might not remain so rosy.
“I think one of the issues with Bainimarama is he is a bit unpredictable so he might be diplomatic at one level one day and then he might have other thoughts the next day.”
But for today at least the relationship between New Zealand and Fiji couldn’t be warmer.