Video: Fiji PM on rebuilding, rugby and 'hostile' media
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has used his first speech commemorating the landmark visit from John Key to talk about reinvigorating the countries' relationship, but also fired a shot at media.
Mr Key is the first New Zealand Prime Minister to visit the Pacific nation since the military coup in 2006, in which Mr Bainimarama installed himself as leader.
He was voted in as Prime Minister in the country's general election in 2014.
Mr Bainimarama's speech was peppered with jokes about rugby, restoring diplomatic ties with New Zealand and thanks for help following the destructive Cyclone Winston earlier this year.
"I intend to work with you to strengthen the relationship to match the friendship that has always existed between our people," he said.
"And so I'm delighted on behalf of every Fijian to welcome you to Suva. You are among friends, as long as you choose your words carefully when it comes to rugby.
"I want to express my heartfelt thanks from the Fijian people for the way hundreds of your servicemen and women came to our aid during the dark days three-and-a-half months ago. Amid all of the heartbreaking destruction, the arrival of your warship Canterbury gave our people hope."
But the speech turned serious when Mr Bainimarama criticised the "hostile" New Zealand media.
"There appears to be a substantial body of opinion in New Zealand, led by your generally hostile media that what has happened in Fiji somehow lacks legitimacy. That somehow, I lack legitimacy, and my government lacks legitimacy.
"This is simply not borne out by the facts. We have moved on, but it would appear that the New Zealand media has not," he said.
Mr Bainimarama also said the country had changed significantly since the coup in 2006.
Watch the speech.
Prime Minister John Key reiterated New Zealand's desire to progress a Fijian relationship at a press conference in Suva this morning.
Mr Key says himself and Fijian Prime Minister Fran Bainimarama have been working together on trade agreement Pacer Plus, Cyclone Winston recovery, a double-tax agreement, and the RSE scheme which sends Fijians to New Zealand to work.
The Prime Minister also touched on working with Fiji over education, health services, tourism and protection of fisheries resources.
"This is an important step in the relationship. As I said to the Prime Minister, I didn't come to Fiji to reiterate the issues of the last ten years, I came to Fiji to demonstrate actively that New Zealand wants to progress the relationship, that there's a great deal we could and should be doing, and New Zealand is utterly committed to the Fijian relationship."
Mr Bainimarama says the countries have begun the "process of rebuilding and redefining our relationship, and understanding our respected positions".
He says they will also work on dealing with the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.
"We both have high hopes for what Fiji can accomplish," he said.
Mr Key said he reiterated the importance of media in a democracy, but Mr Bainimarama remained behind his comments from last night about New Zealand's "hostile media".
"I don't think he's going to change that in the very short term -- he's made it clear in the short term that's his perspective. I wasn't terribly surprised that he made the comments he's made," Mr Key said of his Fijian counterpart.
"Ultimately we need to look forward, we need to set up the relationship on its new foundation, and move on the great things from the past and accept there are some areas where we're going to have to agree to disagree.
"If you pick up a copy of the Fiji Times, and you pick up the front page, what you see is friends again."