Aussies have been on peace duties in Honiara for a week – but NZ (after waiting to be asked) is deploying help, too

Monitoring the Ministers

A week after violence erupted in Honiara, capital of the politically troubled Solomon Islands, the Ardern government responded to a request to help restore peace and stability.

The New Zealand government has announced that it will deploy Defence Force and Police personnel to Honiara to help restore peace and stability.

Better late than never?

The Aussies responded last week.

But according to the Beehive statement, we were asked for help only this week.  The Aussies reportedly were asked for help almost immediately after protesters arrived on the steps of Solomon Islands’ national parliament in Honiara last Wednesday to demand the prime minister’s resignation.

Anyway, our government has had plenty of other things to consider.

Coastal shipping, for example.  The cumbersomely titled Coastal Shipping Investment Approach State-of-Play report has been released, described by Transport Minister Michael Wood as an important step towards a more sustainable coastal shipping sector, which will further diversify New Zealand’s supply chain.

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods has announced legislation in her portfolio patch has been given the Royal assent.

Once in effect The Crown Minerals (Decommissioning and Other Matters) Amendment Bill will mitigate the risk to the Crown and taxpayer of having to fund decommissioning if a permit or licence holder is unable to do so.

But Point of Order has been keeping an eye on events in the Solomon Islands and waiting for our kindly PM to declare what this country will do to help.

We learned a week ago that Australia would deploy more than 70 security personnel to the Solomon Islands as the violent unrest continued to escalate.

Responding to a formal request from Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, Australia’s Scott Morrison announced the deployment on Thursday.

About 23 Australian Federal Police were deployed immediately, to be followed by 50 Australian soldiers.

Reuters reported last Friday

“A night curfew will be re-imposed in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara after witnesses said Australian police began taking control of hotspots following three days of violent protests in the South Pacific island nation.”

In one report yesterday, RNZ said Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Australia had deployed security personnel to help the authorities in the Solomon Islands..

Earlier in the day, RNZ said New Zealand officials were urgently considering a formal request from Solomon Islands for assistance from New Zealand.

And then– hurrah! –  we received a press statement from the Beehive headed New Zealand Response to assist peace and stability in Solomon Islands.

The statement was issued in the names not only of the PM, Jacinda Ardern, but also Nanaia Mahuta (Foreign Affairs),  Peeni Henare (Defence) and Poto Williams (Police).

We suppose they had been raring to go for the past week, but (quite rightly) were obliged to wait for the Solomon Islands PM to legitimise our involvement by asking for it.

“New Zealand is committed to its responsibilities and playing its part in upholding regional security,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. 

“We are deeply concerned by the recent civil unrest and rioting in Honiara, and following yesterday’s request of the Solomon Islands Government, we have moved quickly to provide urgent assistance to help restore sustained peace and security.”

Nanaia Mahuta said:

“New Zealand will send a deployment of New Zealand Defence Force and New Zealand Police to Solomon Islands in the coming days. This is a short-term, immediate response and we will continue to monitor the situation.

“Under our kotahitanga principle the New Zealand contingent will work to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, and also alongside counterparts from Australia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

Under WHAT principle?

Kotahitanga.  This is the concept of togetherness.

“Māori are a small yet unified race, and it’s important to lift each other up. Kotahitanga is identifying as one – sharing the earth, extending our āwhina (support) to everyone, and receiving the same back.”

Defence Minister Peeni Henare said an initial NZDF assessment team of approximately 15 personnel would deploy today, followed by a larger group of up to 50 NZDF and Police at the weekend.

“NZDF personnel will support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in maintaining stability, engaging with communities and providing public reassurance,” Peeni Henare said.

Police Minister Poto Williams said Police would work with the NZDF to add to the contribution already made by Australia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji to aid in restoring law and order.

“New Zealand Police has a long-standing partnership with Solomon Islands, and has had a presence in Honiara for a number of years. Over the past week they have been providing advice and support to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force on the ground, and these extra personnel will provide community liaison and engagement support,” said Poto Williams.

All New Zealand personnel deploying to Solomon Islands are required to be double vaccinated, have had a negative COVID-19 test before departure and adhere to Solomon Islands COVID-19 testing protocols. They will complete managed isolation on their return.

The New Zealand High Commission in Honiara is providing SafeTravel advice to New Zealanders in Solomon Islands, including that they should follow the instructions and advice of local authorities and exercise care.

The violence reportedly involved a group of protesters who travelled to Honiara this week from the neighbouring island of Malaita.

Their grievances are believed to involve perceived neglect by the central government and lingering dissatisfaction at the Solomons’ decision to switch diplomatic allegiances from Taiwan to China in 2019.

Many communities in Malaita had forged deep ties with Taipei and the island’s local government has repeatedly complained about embracing China.

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The New Zealand government has announced that it will deploy Defence Force and Police personnel to Honiara to help restore peace and stability.

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