4 Oct 2013

NZ names experienced diplomat to Suva post

11:07 am on 4 October 2013

New Zealand has named a diplomat with extensive Pacific Islands experience as its acting head of mission in Fiji.

Mark Ramsden was formerly the High Commissioner to Solomon Islands and has held posts in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

Sally Round reports.

"Mr Ramsden's appointment is seen as a signal to Fiji that New Zealand is putting the Fiji relationship on the front burner as it takes steps towards elections next year. Mark Ramsden has already held official engagements in Fiji, meeting Fiji's Education Minister this week. Despite the Fiji government's website referring to the diplomat as New Zealand's High Commissioner, New Zealand and Fiji are still to formally appoint at the highest level. Fiji has been irritated by New Zealand's stance on Fiji and expelled its last High Commissioner to Suva in 2007. In August, Fiji said no High Commissioner exchanges would take place until after next year's polls. New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully says Mr Ramsden will have an important role in managing New Zealand's relationship with Fiji as it returns to a democratic system."