News 27 Jul 2018
As the non-resident New Zealand High Commissioner to the Republic of Nauru, Nicci Simmonds has challenges that are unique to the region. Lying just 22km south of the equator, approximately half of its revenue is from the regional refugee processing centre based on the island. Fishing is also an important earner for Nauru. Approximately 12,000 residents live on the island nation that’s only 21 sq km in size.
“There have been tenders for a significant construction of the port, which will transform Nauru,” she says.
“The government with Australia are also keen to secure a portion of the $90 million Green climate fund on offer for the region for Nauru. It has generated confidence and momentum, which is celebrating its 50th year as an independent nation.”
Nauru’s first contact with Europeans was when it was annexed and claimed as a colony by the German Empire. But after World War I, it became a League of Nations mandate administered by New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.
As a phosphate rock island with rich deposits near the surface, Nauru boasted one of the highest per-capita income enjoyed by any sovereign state when it gained independence in 1968.
But when the phosphate reserves were depleted and the island's environment suffered, the trust established to manage the island's wealth suffered.
This led the Government of Nauru to ask the Pacific Islands Forum for assistance. The result was the Pacific Regional Assistance to Nauru (PRAN) initiative, which provided budgetary support to Nauru. New Zealand contributed to this initiative. Today income from the granting of fishing licences and the hosting of refugees and asylum-seekers are the country’s key sources of revenue. Through Forum Fisheries Agency operations, New Zealand contributes air-force and navy assets to assist Nauru to monitor its EEZ.
Acting President David Adeang received the High Commissioner Simmons to Nauru at a formal presentation in December.
The Acting President and the High Commissioner signed the energy partnership agreement which details the funding arrangements, project implementation structures and processes for the NZ MFAT funded renewable energy project; and the education partnership arrangement to support the new education five year strategic plan – Footpath IV.
“New Zealand and Nauru enjoy a good relationship and the High Commissioner will play an important role in strengthening our engagement around mutual interests,” said NZ Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters.“New Zealand contributes approximately $2.3 million in development assistance to Nauru each year, with a focus on building greater self-reliance through improving educational achievement, protecting Pacific fisheries and increasing access to renewable energy. New Zealand is also looking forward to Nauru hosting the Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ meeting later this year.”