Binding together the nations of the Pacific

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Tāmaki Makaurau is host to over 20 different island nations attending the Pacific Exposition this week.

The expo, led by Indonesia, is aimed at increasing opportunities and developing networks for business communities, governments and tourism authorities in the region.

This interest in the Pacific from the South East Asian nation, which has faced criticism of its role in West Papua, will give small countries like Nauru, French Polynesia, Niue, and the Cook Islands further exposure in their tourism efforts and enable more opportunity for economic development.

For Felicity Bollen, Chief Executive Officer of Niue Tourism hopes the expo will help to solidify the connections to perpetuate the tourism efforts in their homeland.

"It’s really exciting that Indonesia is reaching out to the rest of the Pacific, to re-connect.  We are one of the smallest countries in the world, we are the only Pacific country that is one island and we have a population of [fewer] than 1,600 people so, with us, any exposure is a good thing," she says.

Cook Island Prime Minister Henry Puna dispels the notion of tourism being a detriment to preserving culture, rather he sees it as a way of maintaining it.

“Our involvement in tourism, is actually an opportunity to revive and maintain our culture, because our people perform our culture almost daily, not just for the benefit of our tourist…. but also for our own sake, just maintaining that connection with our culture,” says Puna.

The four-day event continues at Auckland's Skycity Convention Centre over the weekend.