10 Dec 2014

NZ signs 10 year pact to boost Pacific development

11:58 am on 10 December 2014

A 10-year pact to address the Pacific's chronic problems of poverty, slow economic growth, food security and youth unemployment has been signed in Auckland.

New Zealand's Foreign Ministry signed the partnership deal with the region's largest development body, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community - or SPC.

New Zealand is one of 26 member countries of the SPC and gives it about US$7 million a year.

The SPC's director-general, Colin Tukuitonga, says it gives certainty to pursue more ambitious and lasting programmes.

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Photo: RNZ

Mr Tukuitonga says the SPC is keen to make the most of New Zealand's scientific expertise, especially in fisheries and agriculture.

"It's a relationship that tries to maximise all the resources that are available to the SPC and to the New Zealand government so we're very keen to engage experts from academic institutions for example current research institutes and so on. So that's part of the conversation over the next couple of days."

The New Zealand Foreign Ministry's deputy secretary for international development, Craig Hawke, says the agreement is focused on results.

"Are children healthier, are children going to school, is the fishery sustainably managed, are there jobs for Pacific island people in the Pacific? So we're asking harder questions. So one of the things the agreement's going to do is look and ensure we're focused on the impact and results and less on the money."

Roadside market in rural Papua New Guinea.

Roadside market in rural Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades