23 Aug 2008

Government reveals contigency evacuation plans for New Zealanders in Fiji

9:51 am on 23 August 2008

The New Zealand government says it has contingency plans to evacuate New Zealand citizens from Fiji should the situation in that country deteriorate.

The Defence Minister Phil Goff says he discussed Fiji with his Australian counterpart Joel Fitzgibbon at Parliament.

Mr Goff says co-ordinated contingency plans have been in place since the 2006 coup.

He says neither New Zealand nor Australia see a military solution for Fiji -- which the Pacific Islands Forum has threatened to suspend if it does not hold elections by March next year.

"If there was violence erupting, the first way in which we would try to evacuate our civilians is by the normal commercial airline route. If however, that airport a Nadi was closed, then we would have to consider whether a military evacuation by air or by sea was necessary."

Phil Goff says the government does not expect to have to evacuate citizens but it would be remiss not to have plans in place.