4 Oct 2004

Pacific Co-operation Foundation says New Zealand must lift its game in the region

8:26 pm on 4 October 2004

New Zealand's Pacific Co-operation Foundation is calling for New Zealand to substantially increase its aid spending in the Pacific.

Its executive director, Vince McBride, says New Zealand needs to lift its game because other countries, including Australia, have increased their commitment, and New Zealand can no longer claim to know the region better than anyone else.

Mr McBride says there should be more embassies or high commissions, with more informed staff.

And he would like New Zealand to move towards its stated goal of providing donor aid of 0.7 percent of gross national income.

Currently New Zealand gives 0.24 percent and Mr McBride says this rules out the large scale projects undertaken a generation ago.

"Now if the Government was to put a significantly larger amount of money into the region we could do things like that again. I am not saying that we should rush in and build hospitals and all sort of things all over the region - to build monuments or anything - but I am sure there are a lot more useful things we could do if there was significantly more money."