Wednesday, 6 February 2008 3:14 PM

New Zealand Privileged to Play Its Part in Developing Capacity of Solomons

Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands Acting Special Coordinator, Dr Jonathan Austin, said New Zealand is privileged to play its part in working together with the region to help a neighbour.

"On the occasion of Waitangi Day my fellow New Zealanders serving with RAMSI look forward to celebrating our National Day in Solomon Islands with our Solomon Islands friends and colleagues," Dr Austin said.

Dr. Austin thanked those working with the mission saying they can be proud of their efforts in supporting Solomon Islands to become a safe, well-governed and prosperous nation.

New Zealand makes a significant contribution to RAMSI in both personnel and funding, including senior leadership roles across the mission.

There are almost 100 New Zealanders currently working with RAMSI in law and order and capacity development activities.

Matthew Hodge-Kopa from New Zealand Treasury is helping develop the capacity of Solomon Islands Economic Reform Unit, working with his government counterpart, Dalcy Tozaka, on State Owned Enterprise reform.

Together they are working on a number of issues including improving the supply of basic utilities like water and power to the public.

"Delivering key infrastructure services improves people's lives by improving the business environment here. In the long run, better electricity and water services can generate more jobs and opportunities for people in Honiara and rural areas," Mr. Hodge-Kopa said.

Dr. Austin said that New Zealand shared a long history and a great deal of culture with the other 14 Pacific Island nations contributing to RAMSI and was another rewarding aspect of working with the mission.

"RAMSI has a good story to tell and is something all contributing countries and Solomon Islands can be proud of," Dr. Austin said.

"While the situation in Solomon Islands remains challenging and there is much work still to be done, New Zealand is committed to RAMSI and working with Solomon Islanders to ensure a better brighter future for all."

15 countries contribute to RAMSI: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

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