Venkat Raman in Suva
Thursday, June 9, 2016
New Zealand Prime Minister was accorded a warm welcome by his Fijian counterpart Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama as he landed at the Nausori Airport this afternoon.
Among those who were present at the Tarmac to receive him were Attorney General Ayyaz Sayed Khaiyum, other ministers and senior officials of the government.
Soon thereafter, he was accorded a formal, ceremonial welcome, known in Fiji as ‘Sevusevu’ at the Valenibose Grounds in the Capital City of Suva.
The elaborate ceremony described Mr Key as a distinguished guest and that the people of Fiji extended their fraternal ties to the people of New Zealand.
In many ways, it was a touching and emotional ceremony.
The fact that the Bainimarama government was serious and sincere about the visit of the New Zealand Prime Minister, the first since 2006, was evident in the signage boards that said, ‘A warm welcome to Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand’ throughout the enroute from Nausori to Suva.
Later, briefing media personnel (including this Reporter) accompanying him, Mr Key hoped that his visit would open a new chapter in New Zealand-Fiji relations.
“We have come with an open mind to discuss ways and means of engaging with the Bainimarama government for the betterment of the people of both countries. More than 400,000 New Zealanders visit Fiji every year as tourists, while New Zealand is home for about 50,000 Fijians. We should be able to establish better relations with Fiji,” he said.
Answering questions about the reported decision of some leading commercial banks in New Zealand not to lend to foreigners buying properties in New Zealand, he said it was symbolic but admitted that the decision was a prerogative of the banks.
“As we have said, foreigners buying properties in New Zealand are a minority, constituting just 3% of the market.,” he said.
Indian Newslink and Radio Tarana will bring updates on the ongoing visit of Mr Key.
1. John Key has a close moment with Frank Bainimarama on arrival in Nausori airport on June 9.
2. John Key receives ceremonial welcome (‘Sevusevu’) in Suva on June 9
Pictures by Sanjesh Narayan, Radio Tarana