18 Jul 2005

French Polynesian President in New Zealand for talks

9:45 am on 18 July 2005

The French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru will begin talks with the New Zealand government this week focussing on trade, education and tourism.

Mr Temaru, who's leading a 24 strong delegation on his first official visit to New Zealand, will be looking at ways of reducing the trade imbalance between the two countries and is also seeking technical assistance.

But, Mr Temaru is under no illusion about the work his people need to do to make things happen back in Tahiti.

"We have to work hard, try to develop our country. There are so many things to develop. Tourism is our main industry. We have about 235 thousand visitors a year and our goal is to double that number."

Mr Temaru has also raised the possibility of a Pacific Passport to open up travel in the region.

Mr Temaru says the Pacific Passport would be modeled on the European Union passport, which gives members free access in the EU.

He says he will discuss the idea with leaders at the Pacific Forum meeting in Papua New Guinea later this year.