Twenty-eight companies from eight Pacific Island countries are showcasing their products at the Pasifika Festival in Auckland on 25-26 March.

A Papua New Guinea participant talks about her merchandise at last year’s Pasifika Festival.

Their participation is part of the Pacific Path to Market Programme hosted by Pacific Trade & Invest (PT&I) NZ, an initiative that helps pave the way for Pacific Island exporters to find markets for their products in New Zealand.

The countries represented are Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, Palau, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Most of the country delegations will be led by a senior official of its Economic Development Agency (EDA).

“We are delighted to host six EDA officials for this year’s Path to Market Programme,” Michael Greenslade, PT&I NZ Trade Commissioner says. “The agencies have the responsibility to grow business capability for Pacific Island companies to become export ready. As such these agencies are natural partners for PT&I who connect the companies to the New Zealand Market.”

During their stay in New Zealand the agencies will attend Pasifika, capability workshops, a Gap Analysis session, conduct Field Trips and participate in a business-to-business speed dating programme, where they will meet with parties from New Zealand that are interested in doing business with the companies in their delegation.

PT&I builds strong relationships with the various Pacific EDAs and their attendance at the Path to Market workshops often leads to a formal internship with the Auckland Office, Mr Greenslade added. Over the past three years the Auckland Office of PT&I has had interns from the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Bougainville. “This and this year we hope to announce a number of Interns from Micronesia,” Mr Greenslade revealed.

Pacific Periscope e-interviewed several of the senior EDA officials that will lead their delegations to Pasifika Festival next week.

‘Excellent opportunity for our exporters,’

Jone Cavubati, Fiji Export Council CEO.

Jone Cavubati, Fiji Export Council CEO says, “The Pasifika Festival gives our exporters a platform to research their product and gauge how it appeals to Pacific Islanders attending the show and those browsing through the stalls.

“The 2017 Pasifika Festival is an excellent opportunity for our exporters to promote their products and SMEs should take full advantage of this opportunity to expand their business and establish new export markets. This could result in both short term gains and the prospect of building long-term financial benefits for their businesses.

“We have always stressed to our members that you need to explore these foreign markets to understand what they need and want for us to meet their expectations,” he said.

Speaking on the Fiji Export Council’s partnership with PT&I on the Pacific Path to Market programme, Mr Cavubati said, “PT&I have been instrumental in supporting the FEC develop our member exporters through the programme that has been ongoing for the past three years. Last year our exporters underwent a two-day seminar in Suva and Nadi preparing them to showcase their products at the Pasifika Festival 2017.”

‘Path to Market’ best way of building export capacity’

Eddie Wilson of SAME

Success of Samoa’s participating companies in obtaining market contacts and export orders as well as the identification of opportunities for future participation, is what Eddie Wilson, Samoa delegation leader and President of the Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters (SAME), PT&I’s EDA partner in Samoa, hopes to achieve through Pasifika.

“It is an exciting opportunity to see the activities at the festival and learn first-hand how same & Samoa can participate in the future and broaden export markets in New Zealand for Samoa made products,” Mr Wilson said.

About the PT&I Pacific Path to Market programme he said, “PT&I’s approach in carrying out capacity building on the ground through its joint venture workshop/training with SAME to develop market knowledge and preparedness and then exposure of selected participants at expos such as the Pasifika Festival and others are the best way of building export capacity for Samoa and the Pacific.”

‘Taking a leap with parachute firmly on our backs’

“This is an opportunity for emerging exporters to be able to access a market that is both hungry for Pacific Island products but also matched to the capacity of supply,” says Cornelia Wylie of Vanuatu. Ms Wylie does not work with an economic development organisation but is leading the delegation on its behalf. She also represents her own company, Fine Foods Vanuatu.

“The build-up [to the Pasifika Festival] is like taking a leap from a plane and making sure we have the parachute firmly on our backs,” Ms Wylie said.

“I know first-hand how important the role is that PT&I has played. For the Pacific Path to Market [PT&I] are the parachute on our backs. It is the gentle guidance to the landing zone so that we can hit the ground running.”

Ms Wylie said she would like to see closer collaboration of exporters and networking within the country to meet buyers’ expectation as well as a bringing back knowledge of the next steps in export.

 ‘Gaining insights on securing export deals’

Tonga’s Eva ‘i Mahinafekite Pele Liava’a.

“Tonga’s virgin coconut oil has great potential for export to New Zealand,” says Eva ‘i Mahinafekite Pele Liava’a of Tonga’s Ministry of Commerce and Labour’s Business Development Support & Investment Division.

“We are bringing 3 different companies that makes oil to explore the market in New Zealand. I would like companies to gain insights on the New Zealand markets and to secure an export deal.

“We would like to acknowledge all the support that PT&I has given us in the past and we look forward for more collaborations in the future,” she added.

‘Hoping to learn from the big boys’

Ravuni Uluilakeba, Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Commerce & Investment (OCI) of the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) says, “It will be a great opportunity to show some of our RMI products that can be exported to New Zealand and other parts of the Pacific. We thank PT&I for the generous support to have the Pacific countries to participate where lots of networking and learning can be achieved.

Ravuni Uluilakeba, CEO of OCI, Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“The RMIs expectation is to promote its products and at the same time work to create new partnership for players in NZ and the Pacific at large. RMI reps would like to learn more on experiences from the Big Boys,” he added.

For more information email PT&I Trade Development Managers Joe Fuavao at or Ian Furlong at

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