Watch live: Christopher Luxon and Sitiveni Rabuka hold joint press conference in Suva

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has announced nearly $27 million for projects in Fiji and removing the need for transit visas for Fijians entering New Zealand.

It follows a leader-to-leader meeting between Luxon and his Fijian counterpart Sitiveni Rabuka in Fiji, as part of the New Zealand prime minister’s first trip to the Pacific.

The two countries have also set a goal of boosting two-way trade – currently about $1.4b a year – to $2b a year by 2030.

The projects announced today are funded from New Zealand’s International Development Cooperation programme, and include:

  • A further $3.6m to Fiji’s Climate Relocation of Communities Trust Fund
  • $572,000 for an upgrade to the High Temperature Forced Air (HTFA) Facility at Nadi International Airport alongside Australia, to help Fijian horticultural exporters meet New Zealand’s strict biosecurity requirements
  • $15.3m for a New Zealand Plant and Food Research-led programme to support farmers in five Pacific countries including Fiji adapt to the impacts of climate change on production
  • $7.5m for the Fiji government’s economic reform programme, which is focused on improving fiscal management, sustainability and economic resilience

Luxon and Rabuka, who has been Fiji’s Prime Minister since 2022, also released a joint statement recognising the “deep and broad historical, cultural, and people-to-people connections” between the two countries and committing to refresh their Duavata Partnership next year, when it is set to reach maturity.

He said the change to allow Fijian nationals to enter New Zealand without the need for a transit visa was also a “tangible demonstration” of New Zealand’s commitment to Fiji.

“Many Fijian nationals travel through New Zealand to reach other destinations in the Pacific and around the world – we expect this will have a positive economic impact for the region.

“This change will mean that Fijian nationals will be able to transit New Zealand with a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA), similar to many other Pacific countries,” he said.

The work to put the change in place was expected to be completed “in the coming months”.

Fijians would still need to apply for a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority to transit New Zealand, and Fijians intending to visit, study or work in New Zealand would still need to apply for the appropriate visa.

“It was a major irritant and that’s something we’d heard loud and clear since oru government came to power,” Luxon said.

He said the government had also heard about concerns around the cost of visitor visas, and had “taken that on board”.

The government has yet to announce new settings for visa fees and levies, with plans to make the system entirely self-funding, meaning increased revenue.

A stronger relationship

Speaking to reporters after their meeting, Rabuka said Fiji and New Zealand were close. He said he spoke from personal experience, having received training from some of the best New Zealand soldiers and captained the Fiji team during the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch.

“Fiji is very much indebted to the New Zealand government and its people,” he said, referring to New Zealand as Fiji’s largest Pacific trading partner, and emphasising cooperation on other areas including investment, climate change, security and defence, fisheries, health, and drugs and human trafficking concerns.

He said Fiji’s labour mobility had grown through the RSE scheme and welcomed New Zealand’s further support for the initiative.

He and Luxon also discussed Rabuka’s “vision for the Ocean of Peace and the Blue Pacific Continent” and expressed a hope Luxon would attend a meeting on that in August, he said.

He specifically mentioned New Zealand’s role in the prevention of the nuclearisation of the Pacific region, and referred to New Zealand’s continued commitment to a nuclear free Pacific zone.

He said he was hoping to visit New Zealand in October to address the Fijian community in Auckland.

Luxon said he’d had a wonderful visit to Fiji and things had gone quite well other than the “minor diplomatic incident” of the Crusaders being out of the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

Regional security

Asked about the potential for New Zealand to be involved in the second pillar of the AUKUS partnership, Rabuka said they were looking very favourably at it.

“We will be beneficiaries, so any advancements in that area would also benefit us.”

Regional security has been a key topic in the Pacific, and Rabuka said Fiji had been very concerned about the outbreak of violence in New Caledonia.

“For us as a regional partner in the Pacific Islands forum with New Caledonia being a Melanesian country, there’s a lot of weight on the Melanesian countries to participate in that … I’m very concerned about our melanesian kinsmen in New Caledonia.

“We’ve worked with their … population in the past and leadership … and we’d like to have a workable and peaceful resolution.”

He said Fiji was grateful for New Zealand’s assistance with repatriations.

Luxon said New Zealand wanted to see regional solutions to regional challenges.


Drugs in Fiji have become a hot topic this year with increasing meth busts and concerns about corruption in the military.

Rabuka said the country had agreed on a strategy on drugs and narcotics and what was needed to bring the strategy into effect. He said they looked forward to cooperating with New Zealand on the problem, and were also expecting to benefit from wastewater testing technology.

“It is a big problem,” he said.

Luxon said New Zealand’s police working very closely with Fijian policy, customs control, border control, sharing intell and insights.

“I have no doubt about both of our determinations to be abel to push back very strongly on that,” he said. “It’s something that we do not want to see forced on our people.”

An exchange of gifts

Luxon arrived in Fiji from Niue last night and he and Rabuka shared a dinner with their wives after a formal sevusevu welcome ceremony, which he said was “very very special”.

He presented Rabuka with a gift of a harmonica ahead of their meeting.

It appeared to be received well by Rabuka, who proceeded to play a few notes. Luxon said he had been told Rabuka was a prodigious harmonicist and hoped Rabuka would enjoy the gift in times he needed to relax.

The harmonica was one of three of its kind in New Zealand, Luxon said.

Rabuka’s gift was slightly humourous in nature, a playing shirt of the Fijian Drua Super Rugby team.

In the last round of Super Rugby before the playoffs, Luxon’s beloved Crusaders were relying on the Drua losing to make the top eight and qualify for the finals.

The Drua instead won, knocking the Crusaders out of the top eight and finishing a dismal season for the Canterbury team.

Luxon, who had repeatedly guaranteed the Crusaders would reach the playoffs, accepted the shirt in good but somewhat resigned spirits.

However, he said the result was for the best as Rabuka would’ve been “very grumpy” if the Drua hadn’t made the playoffs and therefore the Crusaders missing out meant potentially avoiding a “diplomatic incident”.

– RNZ / Pool

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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