French territories at Pacific Forum maybe new normal - academic

9:52 am on 4 May 2016

An academic says New Zealand's endorsement of full Pacific Forum membership for the two larger French territories maybe a response to the new normal in the Pacific.

Island leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Port Moresby press their call for greater response to climate change by developed countries.

Island leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Port Moresby press their call for greater response to climate change by developed countries. Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

New Zealand's prime minister John Key assured his French counterpart, Manuel Valls, in Auckland on Monday, that his government supports, in principle, New Caledonia and French Polynesia becoming full Forum members.

Up to now the Forum has been the reserve of independent nations and adding the French territories is likely to lead to a call from other territories to join.

The director of the New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research, Damon Salesa, says this is partly searching for the future of the Forum.

"What is needed is a clear purpose for all of the regional institutions in what is now a very different era where Australia, China, the US and New Zealand are all equally active in the Pacific and so this could be seen as a response to the new normal in the Pacific and it is a substantial shift."

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