Pacific

Strong visitor growth continues in the Pacific region

Fiji continues to be the top destination in the region.

Arrivals to the organisation's member countries provisionally reached over 460,000 in the March quarter of 2018.

The latest quarterly review reports visitors to the Asia and Pacific region were up 8.2 percent from 7.3 percent in the December quarter.

The latest figures outperformed last March's quarter by about 6 percent.

CEO Chris Cocker said Fiji continues to be the top destination with 36.7 percent of visitors followed by French Polynesia at 9.7 percent, Palau on 7.3 and PNG 7.2.

NZ's foreign minister announces next steps in 'Pacific reset' aid strategy

When the coalition government came to power last year, it announced a so-called Pacific reset to New Zealand's foreign policy, and this year's budget saw a surge in funds for the foreign ministry.

In a speech on Friday, Winston Peters announced what he called the next steps in that reset, saying his eyes were wide open to "New Zealand's decreasing influence" in the Pacific.

Mr Peters said New Zealand is looking to redefine its spending by partnering with others in projects which last for 50 years or longer, pointing to support for a Kiribati land reclamation project.

Dengue impact widespread in Pacific in past 18 months

The Team Coordinator, Health Security and Communicable Diseases, Angela Merianos, says outbreaks were reported from American Samoa, Fiji, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu in 2017.

She said Wallis and Futuna has had an outbreak of dengue type 1, with French Polynesia and New Caledonia having both serotypes 1 and 2 of the illness.

Dr Merianos said Niue has had types 2 and 4, with Kiribati recently reporting type 2 dengue fever.

Push to embed climate change prep in Pacific

SPREP'S climate change adaptation advisor said training being held this week in Fiji aimed to improve planning and decision making to boost resilience.

Filomena Nelson said skills such as cost benefit analysis were being taught so that limited resources can be spent wisely and with a long term view in mind.

"Adaptation has to be done as part of development planning as well.

Anote Tong says cutting emissions won't save Kiribati

Mr Tong is visiting New Zealand to promote a film called Anote's Ark which portrays the frightening climate change reality that his people face.

He said even if the most ambitious targets for reducing global carbon emissions are met Kiribati and other islands like Tuvalu and Tokelau could still be swamped by the sea.

Pacific to receive bulk of bolstered NZ aid budget

The Government is set to hike foreign aid by $US500 million ($NZ714 million) over the next four years, as part of its "Pacific reset" strategy. The funding boost represents a 30 percent increase in overseas development funding.

Mr Peters said it was time to reverse the decline in the country's aid support for multilateral and humanitarian agencies over the past decade, which had been sitting well below international averages.

He said the new funding would lift New Zealand's Overseas Development Assistance to 0.28% of gross national income over the next four years.

Warning for Pacific people over indigenous data use

Keoni Mahelona of the Maori not-for-profit organisation, Te Hiku Media, said indigenous people had valuable knowledge, and their sovereignty and ownership needed certain protections.

Mr Mahelona, who is of Hawaiian descent, was speaking at the Kiwa Nuanuatech summit held in Auckland on Tuesday.

His current focus is on the revitalisation of the Maori language using digital technology.

"When we need tools to help us to do our mahi (work), often those tools are designed and sold by non-indigenous groups," Mr Mahelona said.

Australian opposition leader accuses govt of Pacific fail

The Australian newspaper quoted Mr Shorten saying the Turnbull government's approach towards Australia's friends in the Pacific had been found wanting.

He said it was neglecting the South Pacific as Chinese influence in the region grows.

China has reacted angrily to claims it is burdening small island states with infrastructure debt, buying influence in the South -Pacific with "gifts" for projects and proposing ports that could be used by the Chinese navy.

Britain and NZ to co-host Pacific climate change forum

The New Zealand Herald reports the Foreign Minister Winston Peters welcomed the pledge on closer co-operation in the Pacific made by his British counterpart Boris Johnson following talks between the pair in London.

The two foreign ministers discussed a range of issues including future negotiations on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement post-Brexit in March 2019, and Peters reiterated New Zealand's support for the UK following the attack in Salisbury.

Aust minister says the people oppose aid increases

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that 80 percent of Australians do not support any further spending on foreign aid.

Ms Fierravanti-Wells revealed the results of the government's polling as she called for Britain to partner on infrastructure development in the Pacific.

Speaking to aid agencies on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, she said the Australian aid budget will be kept at US$3 billion dollars and would not increase until the economy was back on a sustainable footing.