New Zealand High Commission Honiara, Solomon Islands

Celebrating Partnership: Waitangi Day, February 2011, Honiara

Around 200 Solomon Islanders and New Zealanders attended the annual Waitangi Day reception held at the High Commissioner’s Residence in Honiara. Among the guests, we were honoured to be joined by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Danny Philip and Speaker of the National Parliament Sir Allan Kemakeza. The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) band provided light music, with national anthems sung by New Zealanders serving with RAMSI and the Woodford School Choir.

High Commissioner Mark Ramsden made the following remarks:

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Welkam kam iufala evriwan long Residence blong Niu Silan fo makem Waitangi Dei long 2011.

Long desfela dei long 1840, olketa man-ples blong Niu Silan – olketa Maori - weitem olketa man Britain olketa signem wanfala pepa - iumi kolem deswan te Tiriti o Waitangi - an stat fo bildemap Niu Silan hem kam olsem wanfala kantri.

Waitangi Day is a chance for New Zealanders to reflect on the founding of our nation which, like Solomon Islands, is young in comparison to many others. Overseas, it also provides an opportunity for Kiwis to come together with our hosts in different countries, and to celebrate the partnerships we enjoy.

The Solomon Islands-New Zealand partnership is a strong one, with deep historical roots. It is one we are proud of and one we seek to nurture, not least through people to people contacts, ranging from recent visits by the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully, to the links which are being forged by the many Solomon Islanders working in New Zealand under the recognised seasonal employer (RSE) scheme. New Zealand’s contribution to RAMSI and through the New Zealand Aid Programme have deepened our relationship.

2011 will be a big year for New Zealand. We are privileged this year to host the 40th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting, immediately followed by the Rugby World Cup.

Both events are deeply important to New Zealand and both are symbolic of the interconnected web of links which bind us together with our region, and our partners further afield.

I would like to recognise the presence of the Commander of the French Forces in the Pacific General Tramond, as well as Mrs Tramond and party from New Caledonia. I should also say – before any of my Australian colleagues think to remind me - that the General’s presence means that every country which has ever knocked New Zealand out of a World Cup is represented here today.

Like many Kiwis though, the memory of David Kirk holding the William Webb Ellis trophy aloft on home turf in 1987 is indelibly etched in my mind, and we have absolute faith in Richie McCaw’s ability to repeat this feat! No pressure, Richie.

The past year has seen many developments in Solomon Islands: a general election conducted peacefully; perhaps an improvement in the economic outlook; the continuing support provided by the Regional Assistance Mission; ongoing support from donor partners including New Zealand to support sustainable economic development.

This is a time of real opportunity for Solomon Islands. Your international partners, including New Zealand, are here to support you. There is no better time for a Solomon Islands Government to continue the progress of recent years and work to restore the Hapi Isles to a state which matches its informal name. The opportunity afforded by RAMSI’s presence and the interest of donors will not last forever; there is no better time for a Solomon Islands Government to deliver real reform for the benefit of the vast majority of Solomon Islanders.

Tomorrow we will bid farewell to Peter and Pamela Marshall as they depart Solomon Islands after four years. At Peter’s farewell parade on Friday, Acting Commissioner Walter Kola delivered a heartfelt address. Something that Walter said stuck with me: that Peter is going on to be Police Commissioner in New Zealand is a source of pride to the RSIPF. I think that should be a source of pride for Kiwis in Solomon Islands as well, as we bid farewell to the man we all know simply as “Peter”.

Pamela Marshall has been a stalwart supporter of newly-arrived Kiwis in Honiara, and she has also contributed greatly to various community initiatives. She is a force of nature and will be deeply missed as well. Please join me in wishing Pamela and Peter a safe and restful break, and Peter best of luck for his new role.

Tankio tumas iufala evriwan moa fo kam an selebretem Waitangi Day wetem mifala.

I would now like to propose a toast to the Government and People of Solomon Islands.

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