Prime Minister announces big change for Fijians entering NZ

By rnz.co.nz and is republished with permission

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has announced nearly $27 million for projects in Fiji and removing the need for transit visas for Fijians entering New Zealand.

It follows a leader-to-leader meeting between Luxon and his Fijian counterpart Sitiveni Rabuka in Fiji, as part of the New Zealand prime minister’s first trip to the Pacific.

The two countries have also set a goal of boosting two-way trade — currently about $1.4b a year — to $2b a year by 2030.

The projects announced today are funded from New Zealand’s International Development Cooperation programme, and include:

  • A further $3.6m to Fiji’s Climate Relocation of Communities Trust Fund
  • $572,000 for an upgrade to the High Temperature Forced Air (HTFA) Facility at Nadi International Airport alongside Australia, to help Fijian horticultural exporters meet New Zealand’s strict biosecurity requirements
  • $15.3m for a New Zealand Plant and Food Research-led programme to support farmers in five Pacific countries including Fiji adapt to the impacts of climate change on production
  • $7.5m for the Fiji government’s economic reform programme, which is focused on improving fiscal management, sustainability and economic resilience.

Luxon and Rabuka, who has been Fiji’s Prime Minister since 2022, also released a joint statement recognising the “deep and broad historical, cultural, and people-to-people connections” between the two countries and committing to refresh their Duavata Partnership next year, when it is set to reach maturity.

He said the change to allow Fijian nationals to enter New Zealand without the need for a transit visa was also a “tangible demonstration” of New Zealand’s commitment to Fiji.

“Many Fijian nationals travel through New Zealand to reach other destinations in the Pacific and around the world — we expect this will have a positive economic impact for the region.

“This change will mean that Fijian nationals will be able to transit New Zealand with a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA), similar to many other Pacific countries,” he said.

Luxon arrived in Fiji from Niue last night and presented a gift of a harmonica ahead of their meeting.

It appeared to be received well by Rabuka, who proceeded to play a few notes. Luxon said he had been told Rabuka was a prodigious harmonicist and hoped Rabuka would enjoy the gift in times he needed to relax.

The harmonica was one of three of its kind in New Zealand, Luxon said.

Rabuka’s gift was slightly humourous in nature, a playing shirt of the Fijian Drua Super Rugby team.

In the last round of Super Rugby before the playoffs, Luxon’s beloved Crusaders were relying on the Drua losing to make the top eight and qualify for the finals.

The Drua instead won, knocking the Crusaders out of the top eight and finishing a dismal season for the Canterbury team.

Luxon, who had repeatedly guaranteed the Crusaders would reach the playoffs, accepted the shirt in good but somewhat resigned spirits.

However, he said the result was for the best as Rabuka would’ve been “very grumpy” if the Drua hadn’t made the playoffs and therefore the Crusaders missing out meant potentially avoiding a “diplomatic incident”.

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