The Marist St. Joseph’s Sports Club at Lotopa was a hive of activities yesterday.
Marist officials and management, students of St. Joseph’s College, Robert Louis Stevenson and Pesega College gathered at the club hall to welcome New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the high-level N.Z. delegation.
Among the delegation was N.Z’s Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito Su’a Sio, who said sports is a key focus area of Ms. Ardern’s regime.
“Sports is one of the highlights, we have a lot of sports people coming through. It’s a key area that Pacific people in New Zealand are being able to break the ceiling,” Aupito told the Samoa Observer.
“For us, we have already got a programme set in New Zealand, local communities in Samoa continue to support the Manu Samoa, Fiji and Tonga teams that come through. But it’s up to the government here and the sports organization here to develop how they want to see the sports grow.”
“Sports help young people to approach development, leadership roles, build confidence and we support that view of the Marist club here. How much money we will give sports, that’s an area we will need to negotiate in, we will not just splash money all over the place.”
He explained: “This is a new Government, so we are looking at resetting our relationship with the Pacific countries. Samoa’s important because of the treaty of friendship and also because the Prime Minister is the chair of the P.I.F’s.
“But we want to listen, we will not be making any major decisions, we want to have discussions with the people and then we want to work out what are our priorities and whether our priorities fit with the local government’s priorities and we will work through that. Sports are always something we will always make contributions too, I don’t know the figures now.”
Aupito added New Zealand also places an emphasis on women in sports.
“We continue to support women in sports and you will see this Prime Minister wants to see more women involved in all levels,” he said. “This is a positive step towards stronger bilateral ties with Samoa. Recognizing we are families and families work together.”