The New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully, has begun his tour of Melanesia starting with Vanuatu and then to be followed by Solomon Islands.

A tour of Polynesian countries will follow in a month in the lead-up to the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Auckland at which Vanuatu will pass the chairmanship to New Zealand.

Murray McCully will begin with Vanuatu leaders for bilateral talks and then fly on to Solomon Islands.

His delegation will include officials, NGO delegates and representatives of businesses using the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, which has been sourcing workers from Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

The political uncertainty in Papua New Guinea has prompted Mr McCully to cancel a planned visit to Port Moresby. Last week, the acting prime minister, Sam Abal, sacked the foreign minister, Don Polye, for alleged insubordination but has yet to name a replacement.