Watch: Dancing and singing in Rarotonga greets Commonwealth Games Queen's baton

The Commonwealth Games' Queen's Baton has been greeted with singing and dancing in the Cook Islands – its first Pacific stop.

The baton is on a 388-day journey through Commonwealth countries and will reach its final destination Australia on Christmas Eve.

Sports groups, schools and clubs on the island of Rarotonga are taking part in the baton's journey around the island.

It’s expected to arrive in Tonga tomorrow and New Zealand on December 17.

The baton is on a 388 day journey and will reach its final destination Australia on Christmas Eve. Source: 1 NEWS

Pacific Update with Barbara Dreaver: Islands prepare for Prince Harry and Meghan, Samoa responds to domestic violence epidemic

In this September 14 edition of Pacific Update with Barbara Dreaver, 1 NEWS' Pacific Correspondent wraps up the week's news from the region.

In this week's edition we look at the itinerary for Prince Harry and Meghan’s tour through the Pacific.

In Samoa, a domestic violence commission says the government and church have not done enough to address the issue after nine out of 10 people were found to have experienced violence in the home.

In Papua New Guinea, Australian special forces are helping prepare the capital, Port Moresby, for the APEC Summit in November while Niue has been named as one of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations.  

1 NEWS' Pacific Correspondent gives a round-up of news in the region. Source: 1 NEWS

Barbara Dreaver on the Pacific Islands' Forum: 'Da plane, da plane' - if Jacinda Ardern hadn't shown up we would have been penalised for it down the line

Now that the phosphate dust has settled and the shameless self-promoting headlines about the Pacific being "leeches" and a waste of time and money have lost their hysterical edge - let's take a look at some facts.

The song called Jacinda New Star in the Sky clearly delighted the Prime Minister. Source: 1 NEWS

Firstly to deal with the issue of "da plane, da plane" – it seems only appropriate here to bring in Tattoo from Fantasy Island for those old enough to remember this dubious 80s TV progamme.

Yes, it cost money to send up an extra plane to Nauru to make it possible for our Prime Minister to get there.

That is true.

What is also true is there have been several, not just the one, but several multi-flight trips organised by the former National government around the Pacific because some politicians across the political landscape found it uncomfortable to travel on the C-130 Hercules the whole way.

It's not unusual so I'm not sure why this suddenly became a big issue.

It was important for the Prime Minister of New Zealand to be in Nauru for the Pacific Islands' forum for a multitude of reasons.

The geo-political landscape in the Pacific has changed radically in the last couple of years.

The Prime Minister is making a one-day appearance at the Pacific Island Forum. Source: 1 NEWS

At this forum Air Force 2 flew in a US delegation, a high profile Chinese delegation were there, other Asian countries, the European Union all vying for influence.

From a geo-political stance alone it's crucial New Zealand is a player in this.

Just ask Australia which is having kittens over the thought of PNG and Vanuatu giving port power to the Chinese. Then there are serious security issues.

South East Asia and a bigger push since 2016 from South American cartels are pushing drugs through the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand, fisheries are being depleted - these are all issues that affect New Zealand – why wouldn't we be there?

Instability in the region is bad for New Zealand.

Bi-laterals with Pacific leaders are equally important.

New Zealand wants island country votes at regional and world level – the UN security council which we headed at one point is a case in point, the World Health Organisation and many more. Votes are gold and don’t think that NZ doesn't want to tie up Pacific votes any less than the big players.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters could easily have done the job but he's not Prime Minister.

You can throw money around the region as much as you like but to underestimate personal relationships in the Pacific is sheer ignorance.

Mana is quite rightly attached to New Zealand's leader being there and if Jacinda Ardern hadn't shown up for her first Pacific forum we would have been penalised for it down the line one way or another.

New Zealand cannot afford to tread with the same ignorance Australia does as it blunders through the region – incredulous that things are happening that they don’t like.

To suggest that Jacinda Ardern is not tough enough is ridiculous. I’m told by people who know first-hand that she more than holds her own in a bi-lat and so she should – it's the very least we would expect any of our Prime Ministers to do.

While the above is important there is also something else. A palagi friend who I really respect had the following to say and I couldn't agree more.

"For me the importance of the Pacific is much more cultural – we are part of this place and Pacific Islanders are part of us.

"It's who we collectively are. We give to each other and sustain each other with language, music, laughter. And in doing so we are all creating a unique culture that is different – the rest of the world can only wonder and admire us."

As someone who has lived and worked in the region for nearly 30 years I have nothing but contempt for the sheer ignorance I have been reading from those whose idea of the Pacific is lying poolside at Denarau with a pina colada.

New Zealand needs the Pacific as much as the Pacific needs New Zealand. In fact some countries have made it clear they don't need New Zealand at all.

The National government understood this - so does this Government. Let's move on.


Jacinda Ardern responds to glowing New York Times column describing her as 'trying to counter Trump's ugly impulses'

Jacinda Ardern was the subject of a glowing profile in The New York Times over the weekend that described her as a counter to Donald Trump and "a preview of what could be possible" for women with political aspirations in the US - "albeit one with much better scenery."

But it was the recent controversy over the Prime Minister's quick-turnaround trip to Nauru that garnered much of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd's attention.

"Look, I expect to be criticised. I'm in politics and I'm made of tough stuff," the Prime Minister told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning as she shed more light on the profile. "You don't go through 10 years of politics without being able to take it on the chin.

"I think probably the reason it stood out for me a little bit: It was the first occasion where there was two jobs I was juggling. Two roles. But I absolutely stand by my decision."

Ms Dowd travelled to New Zealand for the column, and described meeting Ms Ardern at her home after returning from Nauru.

In her column Dowd said Ms Ardern, she said, is "part of a club of young, progressive leaders...trying to counter President Trump's ugly impulses against the environment and multilateralism".

After ticking off a list of firsts achieved by Ms Ardern, including being the first world leader to take maternity leave, Dowd suggested "the fantasy of easy equality evaporated" when the Nauru criticism surfaced.

Ms Ardern was criticised for taking a separate Air Force flight to Nauru at instead of sharing an earlier flight with Winston Peters.

The Prime Minister is making a one-day appearance at the Pacific Island Forum. Source: 1 NEWS

"...She wanted to attend because all Kiwi prime ministers consider it a can't-miss; and also because she didn't want to seem like she was shying away from an ongoing debate with Australia, as she tries to rescue refugees from the hideous holding facilities in Nauru, the shame of Australia," Dowd wrote.

"Never mind that in a nation dependent on tourism, Jacinda is the biggest thing to hit here since Frodo dropped the ring into Mount Doom. Her ministers had to defend her."

In the column, Ms Ardern opened up about her "damned if I do, damned if I don't" response to the controversy and admitted she was surprised by "how hard I took that" criticism.

Ms Ardern repeated her reasons today for taking a separate trip via air force plane to Nauru so that she could be back within 24 hours, to look after Neve. She hesitated, however, to express exasperation with what Winston Peters and Dowd both called "the trolls".

The PM has to take an extra flight to the Pacific Islands Forum as baby Neve is unable to travel with her. Source: 1 NEWS

"There's only been one occasion when a prime minister hasn't attended the Pacific Island Forum since 1971," she said today, mentioning her upcoming trip to New York City, where she plans to discuss climate change at the United Nations General Assembly.

"Some of those Pacific leaders who are at the Pacific Island Forum just don't have the chance to attend and be on that platform, and yet some are in the most climate affected parts of the world," she said.

"I see New Zealand as needing to play a leadership role and we can't do it unless we are working alongside our Pacific neighbours. New Zealand needed to be represented at that meeting, so I stand by it."

The PM is heading to Vietnam where she'll rub shoulders with the likes of presidents Trump and Putin.
Source: 1 NEWS

Making a final comparison to American politics, Dowd pointed out that Mr Trump's visits to golf clubs have cost taxpayers there more than $70 million, and President Barack Obama was once hailed as "a romantic hero" after taking his wife on a date in Manhattan that cost an estimated $72,000.

"I was most happy to contribute to our urbane president’s date nights," Ms Dowd concluded.

Columnist Maureen Dowd visited her home and called her an antidote to Trump politics. Source: Breakfast

Pacific Update with Barbara Dreaver: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson’s controversial new role and big times ahead for Tonga’s beloved league team

During the week's edition of Pacific Update, Barbara Dreaver looks at Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson’s controversial new Hollywood role and why its causing a storm in Hawaii, and big times ahead for Tonga’s hero national league team.

We also take a look at Nauru’s personal gift to Pacific forum leaders and why two aircraft are going to help pacific countries counter illegal fishing and drug drops.

1 NEWS’ Pacific correspondent brings the latest from around the region. Source: 1 NEWS