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Future of the Pacific in focus

Future of the Pacific in focus

  • 22 Sep 2019
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The influences shaping the Pacific future will be under the spotlight at the upcoming New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA) Pacific Futures conference, in Auckland.

Staged in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Defence, and Pacific Cooperation Foundation, Pacific Futures is on October 18 at Auckland International Airport’s Novotel Hotel.

Guest speakers at the conference include Foreign Affairs Minister Rt Hon Winston Peters; Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio; Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa Hon Afioga Fiame Mata’afa; and Foreign Minister of Vanuatu Hon Ralph Regenvanu among others who will provide insight into the present state of the region.

The NZIIA seeks to encourage an understanding of the importance of global affairs to the political and economic well-being of New Zealand.

Pacific Futures organiser Melanie Thornton says this event is vital for understanding the new dynamics in the Pacific and what these mean for the diplomatic community, the business community, and for Pasifika and New Zealand communities everywhere.

“Its purpose is to encourage debate and discussion about how Pacific countries are dealing with the issues of climate change, migration, security and crime, and the geo-strategic pressures facing them,” Melanie explains.

Pacific Futures also has a strong focus on young people, and it boasts a whole section looking at digital connections and new models of leadership youth are developing.

Over 80 percent of the speakers are from the Pacific or have Pacific heritage, including Producer for Pacific Media Network’s 531’s Breakfast Show Mabel Muller; and recent Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award recipient Okirano Tilaia.

The organisations involved anticipate the audience to learn a great deal from this event, while the speakers will benefit from being able to address issues they see of importance to Pacific communities and New Zealand.

“We hope we would have brought together new audiences for NZIIA events and they will stick with us and continue to be engaged in our activities and our on-line presence,” Melanie adds.

The concept for this conference originally emerged after Chair of NZIIA’s Publications and Research Committee James Kember (ex-New Zealand Ambassador to France) met with the Cook Islands High Commissioner in 2018. 

It is the first time NZIIA’s annual conference will be focused entirely on the Pacific region.

A broad audience is expected to attend the event, including students, diplomats, New Zealand’s Pacific communities, security and policy people from various ministries, people interested in climate change in the Pacific and university academics.