NZ says committed to getting vaccines into Pacific

New Zealand's Foreign Minister says her government is working to make it easier to get vaccines into the Pacific.

Nanaia Mahuta told the New Zealand Parliament, discussions were being held around the implementation of a so-called TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organisation aimed at speeding up the production and delivery of vaccines.

The TRIPS [Trade and Intellectual Property Rules] mechanism looked to protect intellectual property and trade interests but in doing so critics said it slowed collaboration between companies.

NGOs had called for a waiver to be approved immediately.

Mahuta said the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines needed to be addressed urgently.

"We are committed to supporting the Pacific.

"That is why we've committed, with Australia, to roll out vaccines across Pacific countries. Our whanaungatanga to the Pacific reinforces our duty of care to ensure that there is the provision of vaccines across the Pacific and that's why we are working to ensure widespread coverage between us," Mahuta said.

The minister said although much of the region had been spared the medical disaster New Zealand's Foreign Minister says her government is committed to building resilience in the Pacific once the immediate needs of the Covid-19 pandemic are met.

Nanaia Mahuta told Parliament the government was particularly mindful of the economic impact of the coronavirus in the Pacific.

She said stark economic vulnerabilities had been heightened by Covid-19, closed borders and a drop in tourism.

"Declining living standards and deepening inequalities will have flow-on effects for the region's long-term resilience. Going forward we will work alongside Pacific partners to support a resilience strategy as we make further ODA [Official Development Assistance] announcements in the near future."

Mahuta said economies had been damaged and development stalled across the region.