We have much to be thankful for – health, family, friends, our lifestyle, financial blessing and the freedoms we enjoy as part of a Christian democracy.
At this time we also remember – with sadness and fondness - those family and friends we lost from this life over the past twelve months, but we are comforted in the knowledge that they are now enjoying eternal peace. We also celebrate the many new lives created across our island nation. Our children are indeed our future.
2017 has been another year of stability and peace for Nauru. Our Government has been unified, working together to improve the lives of all Nauruans, and to govern responsibly to ensure our country has a bright future. We have passed important legislation covering health, law and order, heritage, and recognition and preservation of the Nauruan culture, traditional knowledge and practices.
Internationally, Nauru has been well represented globally and played an important role in many forums and summits, and the United Nations. I have personally met with many world leaders and along with cabinet ministers, have secured beneficial partnerships that will directly assist our nation economically. Earlier this year I was honoured to visit Australia on an official state visit, the first by a Nauruan president for over 20 years.
World leaders are impressed with the way Nauru has overcome diversity, corrected the wrongs of the past, improved economically, and matured as a nation over the past five years. Recently, the UN Green Climate Fund gave us a huge vote of confidence when it committed to provide a significant grant that will help build our new port.
Global connection is vital to our survival. We may be one of the smallest nations in the world, but that doesn’t mean we are insignificant. On the contrary, Nauru has a greater international profile than many larger countries, and this results in economic investment that flows directly to the Nauruan people.
We have led the way internationally by promoting the need for climate change action for small island states, we have increased investment into the nation’s future fund which provides security for our children and grandchildren, we have been a major part of ensuring that the region’s waters are not over-fished, and we have worked closely with the Australian Government to deliver the highest possible standard of care – I believe comparatively the best in the world - to our refugee community.
The past year saw Nauruans continue to live side by side harmoniously with our brothers and sisters who temporarily reside here as refugees and asylum seekers. While some sections of the international media try and depict their lives here in a negative light, we know the truth, and we are thankful for their contribution to our community and culture, and the international flavour they have brought (and I include the wonderful new varieties of food)!
However while we have enjoyed hosting them, we are very excited to see many refugees going to their new home in the USA, and we wish them a wonderful future. We hope they never forget the friendships forged on Nauru.
As we look forward, 2018 will be no ordinary year for Nauru. In January we celebrate 50 years of independence and are looking forward to many across the Pacific community joining us. Those 50 years have seen many ups and downs, but I sense the last few years have been the best yet. That said, my Government will work hard to ensure that even better years are ahead.
Next year Nauru also hosts the Pacific Island Forum for the first time since 2001. We look forward to welcoming visitors from all over the world and I know Nauru will be a generous host.
On behalf of my family and the Government, thank you for your support and for allowing us to serve you during 2017. It has been an honour to represent you, and I along with all of our ministers, MPs and departments will continue to work tirelessly for you into the future.
I trust you enjoyed the wonderful time of Christmas, and that you took time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who gave us life, hope and peace. As we move forward as a nation together, I wish you a very Happy New Year. May God bless you and your family.
Photo file caption: President of Nauru, Baron Waqa