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Pacific Mission 2024: Winston Peters, Dr Shane Reti touch down in Tonga

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Foreign Affairs minister Winston Peters and Pacific and health minister Dr Shane Reti arrive in Tonga tonight. Photo / Vaimoana Mase

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Pacific People’s Minister Dr Shane Reti have touched down in Tonga for the first leg of this year’s Pacific Mission trip.

The ministers were welcomed by Tongan officials including New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga, Matthew Howell, on arrival at the Fua’amotu International Airport tonight.

Tonga is the first stop in this week’s Pacific Mission, which aims to maintain New Zealand’s relationship and ties to the region.

The delegation, made up of members of the media, will then travel to the Cook Islands tomorrow afternoon and finish in Samoa.

Foreign Affairs minister Winston Peters and Pacific People's minister Dr Shane Reti arrive in Tonga. Photo / Grace Tinetali-Fiavaai
Foreign Affairs minister Winston Peters and Pacific People’s minister Dr Shane Reti arrive in Tonga. Photo / Grace Tinetali-Fiavaai

On the NZ Defence Force aircraft this afternoon, Peters got a somewhat rockstar welcome as he was greeted from all sides of the plane as he walked down the aisle.

”Kia ora,” he smiled to everyone, as Reti followed quietly behind him.

Asked about Waitangi, where both ministers had been, Peters replied: “Waitangi was a roaring success.”

As he and Reti posed for photos, instead of saying “cheese,” Peters said: “Waitangi.”

Tomorrow’s official programme in the island kingdom includes a combined bilateral meeting with Tongan cabinet ministers, led by the island country’s deputy PM Samiu Vaipulu.

More details about exactly what will be discussed will be known then.

Another item on the agenda is a visit to a pharmacy warehouse that was built with the help of New Zealand aid, as part of our country’s Covid-19 response.

Vaimoana Mase is the Pasifika editor for the Herald’s Talanoa section, sharing stories from the Pacific community. She won junior reporter of the year at the then Qantas Media Awards in 2010 and picked up the best opinion writing award at the 2023 Voyager Media Awards.



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