Call for NZ to be involved in Bougainville referendum

6:55 am on 13 March 2017

The Bougainville agency charged with preparing the region for a referendum on possible independence from Papua New Guinea says it's vital New Zealand is involved.

A tentative date of June 15th 2019 has been set for the vote and on a visit to the region last month New Zealand Foreign minister, Murray McCully, offered help with the referendum.

The Bougainville Department of Peace Agreement Implementation is to oversee it and its head, James Tanis, said it was vital New Zealand was involved because it helped initiate the peace process.

He said it was very important as a neighbour that New Zealand was there to complete the process.

"In terms of the nature of assistance, yes of course funding, but where there is no funding, we need expertise to [provide] assistance to the Electoral Commission and there will be a lot of technical areas the Commission will need. So in terms of technical assistance - expertise," Mr Tanis said.

"Bougainville would be seeking election observers from New Zealand," he added.

Mr McCully had already said New Zealand was likely to send electoral officials and provide other help.