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New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta. Photo: Mark Mitchell

On Wednesday, New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Minister of Defence Peeni Henare announced New Zealand’s contribution to the Solomon Islands International Assistance Force (SIAF) through an extension of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) deployment to the island nation.

Ms Mahuta held a Zoom meeting with Solomon Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Jeremiah Manele to discuss cooperation between the two nations, including the NZDF deployment extension.

“Aotearoa New Zealand and [the] Solomon Islands have an enduring and long-standing partnership,” said Ms Mahuta.

“Our partnership promotes peace not only through security cooperation but also by addressing economic challenges, climate change and a range of other development needs we face as a region. . .New Zealand will continue to work in partnership to weather the profound challenges that face our region, as we have through COVID-19 and last year’s unrest in Honiara,” she continued.

“We are committed to supporting security in Solomon Islands and promoting a peaceful, prosperous and resilient Pacific region.”

Meanwhile, Mr Henare said that it is important for NZDF personnel to continue operations as part of the SIAF to ensure peace and stability, and because the Pacific region is a priority in defence.

“As part of our ongoing security partnership with Solomon Islands, we have therefore extended the deployment of NZDF personnel for 12 months, to be reviewed by 31 May 2023,” said the Defence Minister.

The SIAF is made up of personnel deployed in the Solomon Islands capital of Honiara, from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea since late 2021.

The group’s goal is to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in bringing peace to the country after previous years of civil unrest.

“Our region faces a range of complex security challenges, including climate change and increased economic vulnerability as a result of COVID-19. Addressing these challenges requires sustained investment across the breadth of our region’s development priorities. Aotearoa New Zealand’s deployment to Solomon Islands is one element of our support towards the Pacific’s long-term resilience,” stated Ms Mahuta.