1st Solomon Islands Independence Day in NZ
The Solomon Islands has held its first independence day in New Zealand, which also served as the start of a campaign to better promote itself.
Solomon Islands has celebrated its 36th anniversary of independence from Britain.
For the first time, an official Solomon islands independence anniversary celebration was held in New Zealand where the Pacific country recently opened a new High Commission.
Jamie Tahana went along to the celebration and filed this report.
On a cold and dreary winter's night in Wellington, the Solomon Islands High Commission put on an Independence Day celebration of warmth and colour for dozens of guests and dignitaries from both countries. The event, marking 36 years since the country gained independence from Britain, was the first official celebration by the newly-established High Commission.
One of the organisers, Kabini Sanga, says marking independence day for the first time in New Zealand is a significant occasion for both countries. Dr Sanga says that while the Solomon Island community in New Zealand is small - especially when compared to that of Polynesian communities - the relationship between the two is continuing to grow.
KABINI SANGA: The world is becoming smaller and many more Solomon Islanders are well educated and also straddling the different worlds and are moving out into Australia and New Zealand. So I think it's growing and I want to see it grow, because our region - including New Zealand - is a smaller place now than what we thought it was before.
The Solomon Islands High Commissioner, Joy Kere, says while the event was a celebration of the close bond between the two countries, it also served as the start of a push to better promote Solomon Islands in New Zealand.
JOY KERE: It's quite significant so at least our people know that we have a mission here now in Wellington and I think we're trying to inform people more now, stakeholders and those we have invited, on Solomon Islands.
Joy Kere says the past decade of civil unrest and natural disasters makes it a challenging task, but she believes that with more exposure, the Solomons will again have a reputation as the 'friendly islands', and thus attract more tourism. She also says she wants more Solomon Islanders to be allowed into New Zealand under its seasonal worker programme.
JOY KERE: Compared to perhaps Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, we are still very low although we've got about 500 workers. We hope we can increase that. We hope that programme can be a little bit more efficient for us. We can increase that number, but also be a little bit more of quality in how we engage with the programme. So I'm hoping that we can review.
Nesleen Hamilton is a Solomon Island nurse living in Wellington. She says being able to gather to celebrate independence day with other Solomon Islanders is special for her.
NESLEEN HAMILTON: I'm a Solomon Islander and I want to join the other wantoks to celebrate the independence of the Solomon Islands. Did you have that opportunity before? Kind of, but this more of a, like, official one.
The Solomon Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand, Joy Kere, says she hopes to be able to do plenty more to help Solomon Islanders in New Zealand connect with their culture.
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