PM Marape thanks NZ for assisting in evacuating PNG students from Wuhan

AUCKLAND: Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, MP, has expressed utmost gratitude to New Zealand for its assistance in evacuating the 17 Papua New Guinean students from Wuhan in China and for housing and treating them in New Zealand, during the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus. 
 
He begun his official visit to New Zealand, last Friday, starting with him meeting with his New Zealand counterpart, the Rt Hon. Jacinda Ardern in Auckland, today. 
 
Leading a high level delegation of parliamentarians and senior government officials, PM Marape said, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand continue to maintain a warm and pleasant relationship, spanning well over four decades.  
 
I am humbled by the warm welcome and reception Prime Minister Arden has given my delegation and I, and I look forward to further strengthening the cordial relationship between our two countries, PM Marape said.
 
In support of PM Ardern’s welcoming remarks, PM Marape acknowledged that PNG’s close relationship with NZ is of great importance during a time of global change and turbulence. 
 
First and foremost, let me on behalf of the people of Papua New Guinea thank New Zealand for its most recent effort and assistance in working together on aspects of our response to the Coronavirus outbreak, including the safe evacuation, treatment and the return of a number of Papua New Guinean students from Wuhan in China. 
 
My visit is certainly an opportunity to increase engagement with NZ as part of PNG’s bilateral cooperation as well as to discuss shared regional interests and New Zealand’s support to the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership, PM Marape said. 
 
He said New Zealand’s humanitarian gesture in assisting our students by bringing them home during the Coronavirus outbreak, goes to show that New Zealand and PNG share robust and strong relations. 
 
Also, New Zealand’s efforts in ensuring the Bougainville Peace Agreement was upheld in Bougainville from 2001 till the referendum in 2019, through its deployment of NZ police personnel throughout the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, is a clear demonstration that NZ has played a vital role in the peace process and is clearly a significant partner in the Pacific region, PM Marape said. 
 
He PNG said PNG also looks forward to  adopting the New Zealand public service model - as it is one of the countries in the world that has the best public service. 
 
The PNG delegation then visited the Papua New Guinean employees (fruit-pickers), engaged throught the Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme at Hawke's Bay, in New Zealand