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PM in Samoa: Jacinda Ardern and Kiwi delegation welcomed in style

Samoan PM Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and her Cabinet ministers welcomed the New Zealand delegation in style. Photo / Pasifika TV Prime Minister...

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Samoan PM Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and her Cabinet ministers welcomed the New Zealand delegation in style. Photo / Pasifika TV

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has officially been welcomed with a traditional ava ceremony in Samoa – on the same grounds a Treaty of Friendship was signed between the two nations 60 years ago.

In a luxurious setting at the top of Vailima, at the grounds of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, Samoan PM Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and her Cabinet ministers welcomed the New Zealand delegation in style.

Surrounded by the lush beauty of gardens and that island air, a huge clear marquee has been put up on the grounds – lit up only by the evening sky and several chandeliers.

The New Zealand delegation includes Jacinda Ardern, Aupito William Sio and Carmel Sepuloni, as well as National Party leader Christopher Luxon and ACT Party leader David Seymour. Photo / Pasifika TV
The New Zealand delegation includes Jacinda Ardern, Aupito William Sio and Carmel Sepuloni, as well as National Party leader Christopher Luxon and ACT Party leader David Seymour. Photo / Pasifika TV

Ardern was flanked by ministers Aupito William Sio and Carmel Sepuloni, as well as National Party leader Christopher Luxon and ACT Party leader David Seymour.

There was loud applause when Ardern raised her ava coconut shell – firstly acknowledging God, as traditional, before thanking Samoa for its hospitality and then drinking deeply.

“Manuia” – blessings, she said.

“Soifua,” the crowd responded accordingly.

Speaking to those at the ceremony, Ardern spoke of the ties formed between New Zealand and Samoa since the Treaty of Friendship was signed when the island nation gained independence in 1962.

“The bonds of friendship developed under the treaty cut across political party lines in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Samoan PM Fiame Naomi Mata'afa and her Cabinet ministers welcomed the New Zealand delegation in style. Photo / Pasifika TV
Samoan PM Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and her Cabinet ministers welcomed the New Zealand delegation in style. Photo / Pasifika TV

“It enriches families, sport, church life, literature, arts and culture, commerce and education in both our nations,” she said.

“Aotearoa New Zealand’s multicultural character owes much to the rhythms shared by its Pacific peoples.

“Nowhere is this more so than in the contribution which Samoan New Zealanders make to our country.”

Ardern also acknowledged that there had been hard times during those 60 years and paid tribute to Fiame and her own family history.

Her father was Samoa’s first prime minister and signed the treaty.

Asked what she thought our respective Kiwi and Samoan forefathers would have felt at there being two women leading the two nations, Ardern smiled.

“Well, I would hope that they would collectively be proud of their daughters.”

The New Zealand delegation includes Jacinda Ardern, Aupito William Sio and Carmel Sepuloni, as well as National Party leader Christopher Luxon and ACT Party leader David Seymour. Photo / Pasifika TV
The New Zealand delegation includes Jacinda Ardern, Aupito William Sio and Carmel Sepuloni, as well as National Party leader Christopher Luxon and ACT Party leader David Seymour. Photo / Pasifika TV

It will be another busy day tomorrow; with bilateral meetings organised with Samoa’s Head of State and Fiame.

Fiame has hinted that there will be an announcement of some sort – set to be revealed after the two leaders officially meet.

A Guard of Honour is also on the programme, as well as a flag-raising ceremony, before the delegation heads back home in the afternoon.



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