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NZ offers Samoa assistance in preparation for big conference

APIA, Samoa ---- New Zealand has pledged assistance to help Samoa host next year’s Small Island Developments States conference, the biggest international event to be held in Apia.“The challenge is the 3000 plus delegates and we will offer support in accommodation,” said New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.“New Zealand is also exploring actively ways to support arrangements, but I am not in a position to tell what the arrangements are,” he said.Challenges faced by small islands will be discussed at the conference in the hope that constructive solutions would to be reached.The Minister was asked about concerns over changes that might arise in the Regional Seasonal Employments (RSE) scheme if there was a change of administration in New Zealand.Under the scheme thousands of seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands including Samoa work in New Zealand.McCully said Samoa was a success story when it comes to RSE.Instead of focusing on the concern, the focus should be on plans for “greater ambition and proper framework to build on.”He said Prime Minister Tuilaepa had suggested areas that the scheme might expand to, and this could be achieved in the next few months since New Zealand’s economy has picked up after the rebuilding of earthquake-damaged Christchurch.