1 Aug 2012

Samoa hails New Zealand links - 50 years into Friendship Treaty

12:55 pm on 1 August 2012

Samoa's Prime Minister has described the relationship between New Zealand and his country as excellent.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, is in Samoa with a delegation of 120 people to mark the signing of the Treaty of Friendship.

Natalie Mankelow reports.

"John Key has gifted Samoa five million New Zealand dollars to pay school fees for year nine to 11 pupils who attend Samoan schools. Mr Key says school fees can be a barrier for some Samoan families, and paying them will help the economy in the longer term. Mr Key has also met with the Prime Minister, Tuilapea Sailele Malielegaoi, and the Samoan cabinet. After the meeting, Tuilaepa said the relationship between the two countries is excellent. He says ministerial meetings are still happening regularly, and that reflects the good relationship. The New Zealand delegation is also taking part in a state lunch with Tuilaepa."

Following the meeting, Samoa's Prime Minister said the positive approaches made by New Zealand and Australia to Fiji are healthy.

The three countries have agreed to re-instate high commissioners and relax sanctions after tit for tat diplomatic expulsions three years ago.

Tuilaepa, who has been a critic of the Fiji regime, says New Zealand and Australia must ensure that the intention to hold elections proves fruitful.

He says the thawing in relations is good to see because they don't want to give Fiji's leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, a reason not to go to the promised 2014 elections.