This year, on November 14-19, the second Pacific Parliamentary Forum is set to take place, with leaders from around the Pacific visiting Auckland for two days, before continuing to Wellington for the rest of their visit to New Zealand.
In 2013, leaders discussed and debated issues such as regional leadership, democracy, climate change, health issues, gender equality, media and the importance of Parliaments to communities, business development and job creation during the Forum.
The outcome of the Forum saw leaders agreeing to encourage more women to enter Parliament; to rely more heavily on renewable energy; to foster free media to promote democracy and an open transparent society; while also exploring ways to improve technology; prioritise healthcare and disease prevention; and to facilitate trade and investment in a manner that ensures sustainable development in the interests of the Pacific.
When the leaders reunite in NZ next week, they will look at issues and challenges affecting their respective countries, but also at how circumstances have improved since the 2015 Forum.
The Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) along with the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee are hosting approximately 40 leaders from Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesian countries during the NZ visit.
The leaders begin their five-day visit in Auckland, with a powhiri welcome by Ngati Whatua at Orakei Marae, before the contingent continues to Auckland War Memorial Museum for a tour.
That afternoon, the leaders split into groups to visit the various Auckland-based Pacific Members of Parliament at their constituencies, including Jenny Salesa (Manukau East), Su’a William Sio (Mangere), Carmel Sepuloni (Kelston) and Alfred Ngaro (Te Atatu).
After the MP visits, leaders will be treated to a Taste NZ evening at the Auckland Art Gallery.
On day two in Auckland, they will once again be split into groups to engage with various Pacific community groups throughout Auckland, such as Healthy Families, Pacific Homecare, Vaka Tautua, Pasifika Futures, Pacific Trade and Invest, VECTOR and Watercare.
A cocktail event at the University of Auckland’s Fale Pasifika will wrap up the Auckland stage of the leaders’ visit, before they depart for Wellington.
In Wellington, the leaders will head to NZ’s Parliament and be part of many debates around pressing Pacific issues, as well as participating in various networking events.
The Forum is an opportunity for Pacific leaders to engage with, and learn from their fellow Pacific and NZ leaders.
It is also an opportunity for NZ leaders to hear about issues and concerns in the region, and look at ways NZ might be able to assist its Pacific neighbours.
The Pacific Parliamentary Forum gets underway on November 14 in Auckland, and concludes in Wellington on November 19.