24 February 2011

A Parliamentary report of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee about New Zealand’s

relations with South Pacific countries into the way New Zealand can support economic development

suggests that there have been “disappointing results” from the substantial aid provided by NZ. The Committee found that conditions have deteriorated in the 20 years since the last inquiry.

There was no unanimity among the political parties. The Government members consider that NZ’s aid policy has contributed to “bloated… bureaucracies” and that funding should be redirected. The Labour Party members do not accept that Pacific governments are the problem. The Greens want an overarching commitment to reducing poverty, and the Maori party wants aid to support the establishment of traditional structures rather than attempting to replicate governance processes in Australia and New Zealand.

The poor state of South Pacific governments is evident in the Transparency International Corruption

Perceptions Index.

62nd Samoa 4.1

73rd Vanuatu 3.6

91st Kiribati 3.2

101st Tonga 3.0

110th Solomon Islands 2.8

Although the pro-democracy movement in Tonga – which may have contributed to major destruction in Nuku’alofa 18

months ago – is not referred to by the media when commenting on recent developments in North

Africa, it is interesting that Tonga has a corruption rating falling between Egypt (3.1) and Algeria (2.9)

both which have experienced civil unrest this month.