NZ-Kiribati declaration signed

Monday 9 June 2008, 4:39PM
By Rt. Hon Helen Clark

The declaration signed today between New Zealand and Kiribati reflects the growing relationship between the two countries and sets the foundation for an expanded aid programme, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today after meeting with HE Anote Tong, President of the Republic of Kiribati.

"Our meeting today reaffirmed the continued and growing friendship between New Zealand and Kiribati. New Zealand’s development assistance programme with Kiribati will grow significantly to a total of approximately NZ $32 million over the next five years.

"Two key areas of focus for this growth are support to the Kiribati Marine Training Centre and the new Kiribati Sustainable Towns Programme.

"Remittances from its seafarers are critical to the continued growth of Kiribati and present many economic and employment opportunities. The Marine Training Centre is a particularly important institution for Kiribati, with its graduates providing approximately 15 per cent of Kiribati’s Gross National Income from their work.

"NZAID is working with Kiribati to construct two new classroom blocks and refurbish the galley at the Centre. This will see existing condemned buildings replaced and extra space made available so that the roll can increase by 50 per cent. More female students are expected to enrol.

"Managing the effects of rapid urbanisation is a priority for Kiribati. In the main population area of South Tarawa, 46,000 people – or more than half the nation’s population - are living in overcrowded conditions.

"President Tong and I discussed the work underway on a new Kiribati Sustainable Towns Programme which aims to assist Kiribati to manage these challenges. New Zealand has indicatively committed NZ$15 million to this work over the next five years.

"Kiribati also receives assistance through NZAID’s regional programmes, including towards the Kiribati Climate Change Adaptation Programme and the ecological restoration