On September 19, members of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand presented to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee Inquiry into Aid in the Pacific.

Their oral submission to the committee centred on three key areas in which they have first-hand experience: New Zealand’s strong relationships in the Pacific, climate funding and climate migration.

Julianne Hickey, director of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, emphasised the importance of relationships with our Pacific neighbours.

“New Zealand’s influence will come from being a trusted partner which brings independent thinking and an intelligent consideration of local contexts. These relationships will be built on a firm foundation of authenticity, equality and trust.”

Caritas also challenged existing mechanisms for distribution of global climate change funding.

“We are concerned that global climate finance is not getting to the grassroots communities where it is most needed. Simply pouring billions of dollars into global climate funds doesn’t appear to be working in the Pacific,” said Ms Hickey.

Caritas cited examples from Caritas Tonga, where local organisations had found it very difficult to access funding for water tank refurbishment.

Caritas asked the wealthier countries of the region, such as Australia and New Zealand, to meet their long-standing international commitment of investing 0.7 per cent of GDP on Aid. The current figure stands at 0.28 per cent.

“This is about honouring our commitment as a nation. New Zealand has a reputation for being a keen participant in the international community — as well as being a generous nation. But in government spending on Aid, we still have some way to go for the reality to match the vision,” said Ms Hickey.

Caritas discussed climate migration, saying this is a current issue.