Barbados and New Zealand are almost 9,000 miles apart but these two island nations have much in common, and have been establishing ties that bind over the years, with plans to continue.
Such was the sentiment emerging from a social gathering last night when the recently appointed New Zealand High Commissioner to Barbados, Anton Ojala, hosted Governor General Dame Sandra Mason in a reception for a getting-to-know-you session with Barbadians.
In brief formal remarks, Ojala swapped with Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sandra Husbands stories that illustrate areas of shared aims and experiences.
“The relationship between Barbados and New Zealand has flourished,” Husbands remarked at the Sweet Field Manor, Britton’s Hill.
She added that agriculture comprises one of the ‘significant’ areas of mention in collaboration between the British Commonwealth countries.
She spoke of the High Commission’s work with the Greenland Livestock Centre, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute and the Government of Barbados in improving plant and animal husbandry practices, which she described as ‘an invaluable contribution to our country’. She said cooperation in ocean management and fisheries is another example of closeness between the states.
“I must express appreciation to New Zealand from the Government and people of Barbados for your assistance,” Husbands said.
“Issues related to climate change and its potential impact… concern both of our countries. There is still much work to be done,” she said.
High Commissioner Ojala also dwelled on the similarities of the nations in their outlook to threats from climate change.
“Our governments both agree on the urgent need for global action to address this, and many other challenges, through the multilateral system, no matter how imperfect but also through connections between individual countries,” he said.
He drew similarity to Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s address to the United Nations when she pointed to the danger climate change spells for Barbados and island states around the world, and remarks of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern three weeks ago.
Ojala reported that while addressing Pacific Island leaders, Ardern noted those islands do not have the option of avoiding the effects of climate change, so she questioned why they should opt out of taking action to stop it.
The High Commissioner said that these same circumstances apply to Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean.
Underlining another similarity to Barbados, Ojala said of his homeland, “we are a nation whose existence is built on the sea and on the land and, increasingly, on visitors from overseas who come to enjoy what we have”.