David Nicholson: Hi I’m David Nicholson, Director of Pacific Development in the New Zealand Aid Programme at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
David Nicholson: Our total aid programme for the Pacific will be a billion dollars over three years. We’ve had New Zealand companies building solar voltaic systems and feeding these into communities. A really good example of that is in the Northern Cook Islands in small places like Penrhyn Island – 260 people living in Penrhyn never had access to electricity before on a 24 hour basis. With our solar systems in place there they have that access. They can have refrigerators for the first time, they can have television sets, they can have power and street lighting and things like that and that’s quite a significant change and impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.
Also in the energy sector in PNG as well because one of the PNGs key resource constraints is energy; you’ll be aware it's got a lot of natural minerals but extracting those minerals and getting that wealth is dependent on access to power so we’re doing lots of work in terms of electricity reticulation and generation with mini hydro schemes and the like.
In Vanuatu there’s an excellent example of collaboration which is seen a New Zealand company become successful in re-establishing the harbours and wharves of Vanuatu; a significant
$16-18million project that has been won by a New Zealand company; and also we’re doing the waterfront development for tourism there and the same company has managed to win that work as well.
David Nicholson: We’re looking for New Zealand companies with niche expertise but more importantly companies who can guarantee the quality of their work and deliver in a timely way and in environments that are challenging to work in and hard to bring about change and difficult to get the good results. We see New Zealand companies contributing significantly to trade and exchange of skills in the Pacific and we feel that having New Zealand companies successful in developing infrastructure and supporting the capacity and capabilities of Pacific Island countries as being key foreign policy initiative as much as it is an aid initiative.
David Nicholson: We run a contestable process to select potential suppliers in areas where we feel we’re going to do significant work in the pacific. We run panels in tourism, in agriculture, in activity design, in engineering and related services and in energy. If we’re doing any work in those areas we then go to that panel to select who can do the work. We can select an individual on a panel to deliver a contract up to $250,000; if the contract value is greater than $250,000 then we’ll run a contestable process amongst those who are sitting on the panel.
The panel process enables us to get to award the contract quickly because we’ve already done a screening on the capabilities of those suppliers and their work.
We like to work with companies who we know, who have a track record of working well in the Pacific and whom we can work with and therefore New Zealand companies are high on that list.
David Nicholson: So what I would be doing as a New Zealand company is I’d be thinking about the types of work and work focus areas that the New Zealand aid programme is going to invest in and I’d be thinking about how I differentiated myself from international competitors, be it culturally, be it in the way I execute the work, be it in the relationships I already have, but it in the experience that I can draw on to show that I have a New Zealand distinctive advantage.
We believe that we’ve got a culturally distinctive way of working in the Pacific; we think we know Pacific cultures best, we think we work more effectively than many other countries do and we get that feedback from our donor partners. We think New Zealanders naturally are empathetic to Pacific people. We listen more than we speak and we act even more than that and the results are positive and strong.