18 Oct 2006

New Zealand backs Urwin to continue in Forum top job

2:46 pm on 18 October 2006

There is strong support from New Zealand for the secretary-general of the Forum Secretariat, Greg Urwin, to continue in his post.

This follows information that the Melanesian countries have asked Fiji to nominate another candidate for the position which will be discussed next week at the Forum Leaders Summit.

Mr Urwin, who is Australian, has said he's available to continue for a second term if Forum leaders want him to stay but officials from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu want a Pacific Islander in the post.

The New Zealand prime minister, Helen Clark, says Mr Urwin has worked hard to get the Pacific Plan off the ground and is hoping he will stay.

"It's yet to be seen whether a challenge will materialise. Secondly, I have immense respect for Greg Urwin. I think he has done an excellent job and I would be most concerned if political maneuvering were to threaten him doing that job."

A decision on the secretary-general's position will be made by the Forum Leaders.