$27 million pledged to help fight climate change in Samoa, rebuild market

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Almost $30 million will go towards supporting Samoa’s climate change response and to rebuild a local market destroyed by fire.

The announcement comes as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and a delegation of Kiwi politicians and community leaders are in the Pacific country to commemorate 60 years of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship.

Ardern announced $15 million in flexible finance to support Samoa’s climate change priorities.

“This funding will help build Samoa’s resilience to the impacts of climate change and its transition to a low emissions economy.

“We will work with the Government of Samoa to determine governance arrangements and opportunities for future investments.”

Up to $12 million has also been allocated to help rebuild the Savalalo Market, in the capital city of Apia, after it was destroyed by fire in 2016.

Talosaga Bilbo at the Savalalo Market set to be rebuilt with the help of $12 million from New Zealand. Photo / Vaimoana Mase

Ardern acknowledged the benefits of the rebuild for the local economy – particularly for local families and small businesses who rely on such markets to earn a living.

Savalalo is a main hub for many tourists – including visiting Samoans – who purchase arts and handicrafts to take back home. Stallholders sell everything from clothing to handmade souvenirs and food.

“As Samoa transitions from Covid-19 lockdowns and reopens to the world, the rebuilding of the market signifies our focus on economic recovery through support to small business, local enterprise, and women’s entrepreneurship,” Ardern said.

At the site this morning, there is only a massive block of concrete at the once bustling and busy market.

A welcome sign for the PM can be seen hanging in the background: “Talofa lava – Kia ora Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern. Our spirit of friendship lives on.”

Marker stall holder Talosaga Bilbo – whose shop sits just to the side of the main Savalalo Market – said this would be a huge help for the economy and local families, in particular.

“We’re looking forward to seeing tourists coming back into the country, with the borders open again.”

Samoan PM Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and NZ PM Jacinda Ardern after a short bilateral meeting in Apia, Samoa. Photo / Vaimoana Mase

She acknowledged that many families rely heavily on the money they make from the goods they sell at the market.

The family of Tulua Sapunaoa, 20, has owned a shop next to the market for more than a decade. She vividly remembers the day of the fire that destroyed everything.

“I was at school at the time. I was 14 then but it ruined everything.”

She said like theirs, many families rely on the market to pay bills, school fees and raise their families.

“We’ve been able to buy a car, build a house and buy land from the money we make at this shop.

“Thank you to New Zealand, too. Because if it wasn’t for this big help, we wouldn’t be able to rebuild the market.”

Ardern and Samoan PM Fiame Naomi Mata’afa were in a bilateral meeting before the announcement.

Fiame said the meeting saw them speaking on a number of issues; including economic recovery after Covid-19, the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme and agriculture.

“Nothing too contentious – very friendly and warm,” Fiame said.

She said the discussions were made in the spirit of the visit in regards to commemorating the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship.

Ardern said although the trip was short, it has not lacked.

It has been a whirlwind trip for the delegation; which travels back to New Zealand this afternoon.

In a sunny Apia this morning, members of the Samoan Police stood on the lawns outside the Government building, as Ardern inspected a Guard of Honour.

Ardern and Samoan PM Fiame Naomi Mata’afa stood side by side as The Samoan Royal Police Band played the New Zealand anthem followed by the Samoan national anthem.

As the anthems rang out, the respective country flags were raised; waving slightly in the warm breeze.

The Kiwi politicians are sporting a maroon elei (island print) uniform – with the women, including Ardern, wearing traditional puletasi and the men wearing matching aloha shirts.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon and ACT Party leader David Seymour seemed to enjoy the band; smiling cheerfully and speaking quietly to each other as Ardern walked past.