29 Mar 2005

New Zealand's Foreign minister visits New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Rapa Nui

7:16 am on 29 March 2005

New Zealand's foreign minister, Phil Goff, says he is looking forward to meeting the new leaders of New Caledonia and French Polynesia, on a six day visit which also includes Rapa Nui.

Mr Goff is leading a 75 strong delegation of MPs, business people, NGOs, academics, media, officials and a cultural group, on the trip which begins today.

He says with the recent changes in government in both New Caledonia and French Polynesia, the visit is timely.

"It gives me the opportunity to make contact with the new governments, to get to know them better. For our business group, obviously, this is a key market for New Zealand in the Pacific, with exports close to 290 million (NZ) dollars worth being sent to New Caledonia and French Polynesia last year."

Mr Goff and his delegation first visit New Caledonia where he will meet the president, Marie-Noelle Themereau.