30 Aug 2013

Polynesian leaders to meet today in Auckland prior to Forum

7:23 am on 30 August 2013

The leaders of eight Polynesian countries and territories will meet today in Auckland for the third Polynesian Leaders Group gathering since its founding in Samoa in 2011.

The Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna is the host of the meeting after last year's talks in Rarotonga.

Next week the leaders will travel to the Marshall Islands for the Pacific Islands Forum.

Alex Perrottet reports.

"Leaders say major topics for discussion today are sustainable economic prosperity, trade and investment as well as environmental conservation and dealing climate change threats. They will almost certainly discuss their stance on the new Pacific Islands Development Forum created this year by Fiji, which is to be yet another regional grouping with its own secretariat in Suva. Fiji remains suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum, despite the objections of several forum members, but the Polynesian group includes some of the strongest voices against Fiji and its leader Frank Bainimarama, most vocally, the Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. The other Polynesian leaders here in Auckland represent Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Niue, American Samoa, French Polynesia and Tokelau. They've also invited New Zealand Maori, Easter Island Rapa Nui and Hawai'ian groups to the meeting, but it's not clear if here, in the biggest Polynesian city in the world, any New Zealand-based Polynesian groups have also been invited."