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Warm welcome from PM

THE people of French Polynesia are whanau, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as she welcomed the territory’s president in Gisborne yesterday.

The Prime Minister and President Edouard Fritch are in Gisborne for Tuia 250 commemorations and briefly appeared for the media yesterday before holding talks.

Ms Ardern said she wanted to thank the president and his delegation ‘‘with warmth’’.

She thanked French Polynesia for their condolences after the mosque shootings in Christchurch in March, and their presence at the memorial service.

“It speaks for the deep connection and personal relationship between you and Aotearoa New Zealand.”

The two had much to discuss, “but you are family, you are whanau and it’s wonderful to have you here,” said Ms Ardern

President Fritch was invited to New Zealand to participate in Tuia 250 commemorations in recognition of French Polynesian voyager Tupaia’s mediator role between Maori communities and the Endeavour crew during James Cook’s first visit to New Zealand in 1769.

A French Polynesian voyaging canoe (va’a moana) — the Fa afaite — is part of the Tuia 250 voyage flotilla.

The president has been accompanied to New Zealand by a delegation including Speaker of the Assembly of French Polynesia Gaston Tong Sang and Minister of Culture and Environment Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu.

GREETINGS: French Polynesia president Edouard Fritch and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meet in Gisborne before the beginning of Tuia 250 commemorations. Picture by Liam Clayton