National | Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade

Samoan PM's first Waitangi visit leaves lasting impression

Northland hosted thousands in the lead up to Waitangi Day commemorations and among them was first-time attendee, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi.

He says the atmosphere, people and his Waitangi experience was one of a kind.

"I enjoyed the traditional Māori welcome the most.  It is very important to see this very strong culture."

He delivered a Samoan and English prayer at the dawn ceremony to mark the 179th anniversary since the signing of the Treaty, where he talked about the importance of the marae at Waitangi.

“It's the first time that I have visited this famous Treaty park and the marae is a very important meeting place in terms of polynesians."

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the reference he made about the marae was very rare.

"It appeared to him as a gathering place for all peoples seeking inspiration about some of the difficult decisions to be made, not only the people of Aotearoa but also for people of the Pacific region as a whole."

Prime Minister Maleilegaoi met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her deputy to discuss scholarships, work opportunities, regional seasonal employment and aid before returning to Samoa yesterday.