New Zealand PM visit shows support to PH dev’t agenda – outgoing envoy

By Darryl John Esguerra

April 17, 2024, 7:26 pm

<p>New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. <em>(Photo courtesy of PM Luxon/Facebook)</em></p>

New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. (Photo courtesy of PM Luxon/Facebook)

MANILA – The upcoming visit of New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon in the Philippines signifies his support to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s development agenda, outgoing New Zealand Ambassador Peter Kell said Wednesday.

Luxon will arrive in Manila on Thursday to conclude his weeklong three-country Southeast Asia swing that saw him visit Singapore and Thailand.

“He (Luxon) has been very clear that he wants to come to the Philippines. He knows the Philippines as you’ve explained. And he knows that it’s important,” Kell said during his farewell call on Marcos in Malacañang.

“And he knows what you’re trying to do and he wants to support…. His mission is to show the rest of his delegation, (the) 25 tops business leaders, (that) they should be doing more in this part of the world. They should be doing more (business here) in the Philippines,” he added.

The New Zealand leader, along with his business delegation, is set to meet with Marcos in Malacañang on Thursday afternoon.

Kell said his tenure was briefly extended for the visit of Luxon to Manila. He bids farewell to the Philippines after completing his four-year diplomatic posting in the country.

Farewell call

Kell, who learned Filipino while in the country, said he is confident that he will leave his post with a stronger Philippine-New Zealand relations.

“May malakas akong kumpiyansang aalis ako dito ng may matibay na ugnayang pang New Zealand at Pilipinas (I am confident that I will be leaving with an enhanced cooperation between New Zealand and the Philippines),” the diplomat said, hoping Filipinos will not forget him.

“Kaya’t dito, gusto ko, gusto ko sana ipahayag sa inyo na maraming salamat. Taos puso akong nagpapasalamat sa inyong suporta, sa inyong pagtutulong sa aming bansa, at para palakasin ang ugnayan ng New Zealand at Pilipinas (That is why I want to express my sincerest gratitude. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support, for helping our country, and for strengthening the relations of New Zealand and the Philippines)," he added.

In response, Marcos commended the diplomat for his service and assured him that his contributions will be cherished and remembered by the Filipino people.

“Asahan mo at maraming salamat sa iyong magandang salita at kami naman ay nagagalak na sa panahon mo dito sa bansang Pilipinas at kasama ang aming, ang aming mamamayan ay nakita mo at naramdaman mo ang kabutihan ng ugali ng Pilipino (Thank you for your very kind words. We are grateful for your time here in the Philippines and our people, as you have seen, you have experienced the kindness of the Filipinos),” Marcos said.

The Philippines-New Zealand formal diplomatic relations span 57 years since its establishment on July 6, 1966.

Last year, New Zealand ranked as the Philippines’ 28th trading partner, out of 230, with total trade amounting to US$495.37 million.

In terms of tourism, a total of 29,272 tourist arrivals from New Zealand were recorded in 2023, up from just 17,503 in 2022, making New Zealand the 22nd biggest source of visitors to the Philippines.

An estimated 79,998 Filipinos are currently in New Zealand. (PNA)