New Zealand's tense relationship with Fiji

New Zealand's tense relationship with Fiji

New Zealand's relationship with Fiji has recently come under renewed strain.

In June, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama thanked John Key for the support and for more than $10 million, which New Zealand donated after February's deadly Cyclone Winston.

But the speech took a turn: he labelled New Zealand media "hostile", accusing them of reporting on his government as if it were "illegitimate".

Then last week, two of Fiji's opposition leaders were jailed for taking part in an event critical of the country's constitution.

Mr Bainimarama then boycotted the Pacific Island Forum, saying New Zealand and Australia had no business being there.

But Fiji depends heavily on New Zealand; in the past year, our Government allocated $15.4 million in aid to Fiji. That's excluding the aid specifically earmarked for Cyclone Winston relief.

Meanwhile, 151,000 Kiwi visitors no doubt boosted their economy.

Fiji is also developing a new friendship with Russia.

It sold $19 million worth of weapons to Fiji earlier this year, which could be a sign Moscow's trying to gain a foothold in the Pacific.

And there's concern over China's interests in the area.   

"China has no human rights and democracy requirements for its aid, for its concessional loans, for its diplomatic support of Pacific Island governments", says Stephen Hoadley, Auckland University professor of politics and international relations.

So the question remains: will Fiji continue to be one of our close friends - or soon be a hostile neighbour?