Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Minister of Defence Peeni Henare today announced the extension of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) deployment to Solomon Islands, as part of the Pacific-led Solomon Islands International Assistance Force (SIAF).
“Aotearoa New Zealand and Solomon Islands have an enduring and long-standing partnership,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
“Today I met with Solomon Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Jeremiah Manele via Zoom to discuss the depth of our cooperation as well as the extension of our deployment to Solomon Islands.*
“Our partnership promotes peace not only through security cooperation, but also by addressing economic challenges, climate change and a range of other development needs we face as a region.
“New Zealand will continue to work in partnership to weather the profound challenges that face our region, as we have through COVID-19 and last year’s unrest in Honiara.
“We are committed to supporting security in Solomon Islands and promoting a peaceful, prosperous and resilient Pacific region.
“The Pacific-led SIAF is a great example of the success of Pacific whānau working collectively to meet our region’s security needs, underpinned by the principle of Tātou Tātou (all of us together) in a regional conversation,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
“As I outlined last year when announcing my Defence Priorities, the Pacific is a priority area for Defence, which is why it is important that NZDF personnel continue to operate, alongside their New Zealand Police colleagues, as part of the SIAF and support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force to maintain peace and stability through community engagement,” Peeni Henare said.
“As part of our ongoing security partnership with Solomon Islands, we have therefore extended the deployment of NZDF personnel for 12 months, to be reviewed by 31 May 2023.”
The SIAF comprises personnel from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea deployed to Honiara from late November 2021 to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in restoring peace and stability following a period of civil unrest. The SIAF has since continued to support the RSIPF to maintain peace and stability including through community engagement and reassurance.
“Our region faces a range of complex security challenges, including climate change and increased economic vulnerability as a result of COVID-19. Addressing these challenges requires sustained investment across the breadth of our region’s development priorities. Aotearoa New Zealand’s deployment to Solomon Islands is one element of our support towards the Pacific’s long-term resilience,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
The New Zealand Police remain in Solomon Islands providing capacity building support to their RSIPF colleagues.
*A read-out of the Zoom call between the Foreign Ministers will be on the MFAT website here: https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/media-and-resources/minister-mahuta-meets-with-solomon-islands-minister-of-foreign-affairs-jeremiah-manele/