14 Dec 2010

NZ parliamentary committee calls for reprioritising of aid spending

11:30 am on 14 December 2010

A New Zealand parliamentary committee says the government should ensure services provided in Niue, the Cook Islands and Tokelau are harmonised with those on the New Zealand mainland.

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has just released a report on this country's relationship with the Pacific following four years of consideration.

The committee chair, Government MP John Hayes, says Niue, the Cook Islands and Tokelau, are part of the Realm of New Zealand, and so deserve the same access to health and education as other New Zealanders.

He says the committee wants to see a reprioritising of the New Zealand aid budget to achieve this.

"Let's do what we do well. In terms of prioritising we felt that the entities of the Realm - Niue, the Cooks and Tokelau, ought to be first in the queue followed by Samoa because of the Treaty of Friendship, followed by Tonga. Kiribati is a problem because everybody has ignored it and Tuvalu. So we felt we should make a strong effort in those countries first and then as we get problems ironed out there we look at moving westwards."

Mr Hayes also says the bureaucracies in the island countries often end up consuming funds that should go towards developing sustainable businesses.

What we want to do is eradicate poverty, no disagreement about that, right through our part of the world, and the way the committee felt that might be able to be tapped would be to help Pacific people harvest their own fish, process their own fish and market their own fish. Same in the area of tropical timber, where there's opportunities for sustainable development, in commercial food and fruit production and tourism.