Pacific parliamentarians relish workshop

Parliamentarians from the Pacific Islands region are relishing working with UK counterparts this week in Wellington.

New Zealand’s parliament is hosting the Pacific Islands Parliamentary Workshop, for over 30 members and clerks from legislatures across the Pacific and the UK.

Organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the workshop drew parliamentarians from Bougainville, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Tonga and Vanuatu.

With their UK counterparts, they had been sharing experiences of Westminster-style parliamentary democracies.

An MP in Bougainville’s autonomous regional parliament, David Braun Vatavi, said as a relative newcomer to politics, he was learning a lot from his Pacific neighbours.

“What challenges, they’re facing, what good things they’re enjoying,” he said.

“Those things that I’m learning, I will take it back to my constituency, I will take it back to my government, and I will utilise that strength that I’ve gained here to make use in my role and responsibility as a mandated leader.”

Mr Vatavi said he gained useful insights on how to balance his commitments as an MP.

“How do we cope with our roles and responsibilities as a member, how do I have time for my constituency, choosing between this time and being active in parliament and in my office, and also having time for our people” he said.

The Workshop this weekend will run through a simulation of a select committee hearing, using a briefing on the recovery of Tonga’s communities from Cyclone Gita in February as practice.

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