The New Zealand Speaker of Parliament, Trevor Mallard has stressed that there is a need for New Zealanders to learn more about the geography, economy or political system of Pacific Island countries. He spoke at his reception at the New Zealand High Commissioner’s residence in Suva last night.

“We learnt a lot about European economic geography, the economy in the United States and actually almost nothing about the geography, economy or the political systems of our nearest neighbors. I think that is the gap in our education system and I am determined to fill this gap as much as we can.

Not long after I became speaker, I managed to do a bit of budgetary allocation for funding to take me to the parliament to the Pacific every year and Fiji was top of the priority list for the visit,” Mallard said.

He added that the relationship between Fiji and New Zealand is developing and getting warmer and warmer.

While welcoming Mallard, the Fijian Speaker of Parliament, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau thanked the New Zealand Government for assisting Fiji in the early stages of peacekeeping mission. “We have over the years a very strong peacekeeping role around the world and he emphasized that this would not have been possible without the assistance of New Zealand. They encouraged us, we got the equipment that we needed to go to Lebanon and that was the beginning,” Nailatikau said.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, other Ministers, Members of Parliament and other senior government officials were also part of the event.

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