A symposium starting today in Wellington is aimed at looking at how New Zealand might improve its engagement with Melanesia.
Academics, former leading politicians and senior public servants are gathering for Tok Talanoa, Pathways to the Future of Melanesia and New Zealand.
The manager of the event, Tina McNicholas of the Pacific Corporation Foundation, says hearing from Melanesians about their own experiences is critical to New Zealanders becoming better informed about Melanesia.
Ms McNicholas says that sharing views with Melanesians and hearing their concerns will help New Zealanders identify some practical forward-moving strategies for helping Melanesia meet their future challenges.
She says the symposium is all the more appropriate because NZAid's new Pacific strategy through to 2015 will see an increasing focus on Melanesia.
A range of guests from the sub-region, along with New Zealand faces with experience in Melanesia, will discuss issues of political
and regional relationships, economic development, security and
governance, and cultural frameworks.