H E Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe presented credentials to the Governor General of New Zealand His Excellency Lieutenant General The Rt. Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae on 8th February at the Governor General’s House in Wellington. The High Commissioner accompanied by Mrs Malathie Samarasinghe, took part in the credentials ceremony which included a traditional Maori Challenge and a guard of honour.
Prior to presenting credentials the High Commissioner made a brief speech highlighting the salient points in the bilateral relations between the two countries and commenting on the warm and cordial relationship that New Zealand and Sri Lanka have enjoyed for many decades underpinned by shared values as members of the Commonwealth.
In his speech the High Commissioner detailed current developments in Sri Lanka following the end of the conflict and the release of the LLRC Report. Given the complex circumstances of post conflict Sri Lanka the High Commissioner said that the steps taken by the Government led by H E Mahinda Rajapaksa thus far in resettling those displaced, rehabilitating ex-combatants, vigorously pursuing reconciliation and economic development with a particular emphasis in the North and East are clear indications that the Government of Sri Lanka has positively addressed the key issues of accountability, reconciliation and rehabilitation.
Admiral Samarasinghe paid tribute to the Sri Lankan expatriate community in New Zealand and said that they were a source of considerable pride and that he was happy to note that they continue to make useful contributions to the economic, social and cultural development of their adopted homeland. He expressed the hope that trade links between Sri Lanka and New Zealand would expand over the years with a more expansive list of goods being traded than is currently done.
The Governor General in his response acknowledged the warm relationship Sri Lanka and New Zealand have enjoyed over a long period of time and stated that New Zealand welcomes the opportunities presented by the end of Sri Lanka’s decades-long conflict to develop a strong, unified and prosperous country that realises the aspirations of all Sri Lankans. He said further that along with other members of the international community, New Zealand would be supportive of steps taken by Sri Lanka towards these goals.
The High Commissioner took the opportunity to convey to the Governor General, the Government and people of New Zealand the greetings of H E Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka and the people of Sri Lanka.
During the visit the High Commissioner was afforded to opportunity to call on the Rt. Hon. John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand and also meet with Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Nathan Guy, Minister of Immigration, Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade and Members of the New Zealand-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Group. Discussion centred on strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries and also focused on issues of regional interest such as combating people smuggling. The High Commissioner briefed the Minister and Members of Parliament on current developments in Sri Lanka in the post conflict scenario.
During his visit to Wellington, the High Commissioner paid a courtesy call on the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps His Excellency Anthony Mongalo (South Africa) and met with representatives of Education New Zealand to discuss issues related to Sri Lankan students and also possibilities for cooperation in the field of education.
The High Commissioner and Mrs Samarasinghe also participated in the Waitangi Day Celebrations (National Day Celebrations) during their visit to Wellington with other members of the Diplomatic Corps.
Stopping over in Auckland, the High Commissioner had a discussion with Sir Don McKinnon (Former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand and Chair of the Regional Facilities of New Zealand which is in charge of the Auckland Zoo) and the Mayor of Auckland on a request made by New Zealand authorities to provide elephants from Sri Lanka to the Auckland zoo, prior to the conclusion of his visit.
Ms Sashikala Premawardhane, Minister of the Sri Lanka High Commission in Canberra and Mr Aruna Abeygoonesekera, Hony Consul for Sri Lanka in New Zealand also accompanied the High Commissioner and Mrs Samarasinghe on their visit to New Zealand.
Sri lanka High Commission
27th February 2012