8 Sep 2011

Anger from civil society groups at New Zealand shutting them out of Forum summit

2:26 pm on 8 September 2011

Civil society groups say the New Zealand government is neglecting the voices of the needy in the Pacific by denying them access to regional leaders at this week's Pacific Islands Forum summit in Auckland.

The New Zealand aid and development think tank, NZADD, says prime minister John Key, in his speech as the Forum chair, ignored the key role that civil society groups play in providing services across the region.

Its spokesperson Joanna Spratt says if the New Zealand thrust for sustainable economic development in the Pacific is genuine, rather than a cover for advancing business interests, then civil society must be at the table.

"What we are talking about here are the churches and non governmental organisations that provide much needed services for their people, and know what their people need. It's been fantastic to see the engagement with the private sector but without civil society at the table, regional leaders don't get to hear the concerns of everyday people in the Pacific, the ordinary people and the people who are the most in need."