The president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, says his people would rather have jobs than aid assistance from other countries.
Mr Tong is on a state visit to New Zealand hosting this year's World Environment Day events.
He is also expected to talk to New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark about a migration plan for his people because the low lying islands of Kiribati may be unlivable within 60 years due to sea-level rise.
The President says the international community is slowly becoming more aware of the vulnerability of small island states to climate change.
Mr Tong has praised the New Zealand labour mobility scheme which offers much-needed employment to i-Kiribati.
"We don't want to come begging. We want to come with dignity, we want to work. Aid is fine but I think if we could have more people working, we'd be much happier. We'd be happy to have no aid. We would like jobs rather than development assistance."
Kiribati President Anote Tong