Prime Minister Gaston Browne today welcomed the High Commissioner of New Zealand to Antigua and Barbuda and the O.E.C.S. The High Commissioner-Designate is His Excellency Anton Ojala and he becomes the second diplomat since the creation of the New Zealand Embassy in 2014, located in Barbados.
PM Browne noted that both Antigua and Barbuda and New Zealand have enjoyed a strong and cordial relationship, mostly based on shared Commonwealth heritage, sports and common areas of focus on the international scene.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne humored the proceedings by reminiscing on the many matches the West Indies Cricket Team played against the New Zealand team, noting the level of sportsmanship displayed between the two nations.
Other areas of common interest PM Browne noted included their collaboration on issues of Climate Change and promoting climate resilience for developing countries.
New Zealand is located in the Pacific Ocean and comprises of two main islands, The North and the South Islands. PM Browne, in receiving the High Commissioner, congratulated him on his appointment and thanked him and his government for their support of Antigua and Barbuda through our highly-valued bilateral relationship.
These areas include assistance in regional agricultural projects, small community projects, scholarships and most recently, a committed grant of USD$500,000.00, contribution to the United Arab Emirates’ Power Station and Solar Hybrid Plant in Barbuda.
Prime Minister Browne, highlighted the timely contribution of the grant towards the government’s commitment to building a more climate-resilient Barbuda.
PM Browne also indicated the government’s support for New Zealand’s Candidacy for Interpol and pledged further support for the Pacific Island State’s Ocean Acidification initiative.
High Commissioner Ojala in his appreciation of the Prime Minister’s remarks noted that he has since gained a better understanding of the region and looks forward to a more collaborative work together.
His Excellency the High Commissioner said: “In thinking about the relationship between our countries, we have three C’s in common. The Commonwealth, Cricket, and Cheese.” PM Browne responded: “And now we can add Climate Change to the list.”
The High Commissioner noted that New Zealand remains committed to supporting Antigua and Barbuda’s recovery following Hurricane Irma. He indicated that his government is pleased to offer its support for the project of renewable energy and Antigua and Barbuda’s aspirations to make Barbuda a 100% energy-renewable island.