President Tony Tan Keng Yam to visit New Zealand this week on state visit

President Tony Tan Keng Yam will be making a six-day state visit to New Zealand starting on Monday, Oct 26, 2015.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam will be making a six-day state visit to New Zealand starting on Monday, Oct 26, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - President Tony Tan Keng Yam will arrive on Monday in the New Zealand capital of Wellington for a six-day state visit to the South Pacific country.

His visit commemorates the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Singapore and New Zealand, and reaffirms their warm and broad-based relations, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement on Sunday.

Dr Tan's trip, made at the invitation of New Zealand Governor-General Jerry Mateparae, is the latest in a series of visits between leaders of the two countries.

In May, Mr K. Shanmugam visited New Zealand in his previous capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Sir Jerry, who is New Zealand's head of state, was in Singapore for a three-day state visit in July, while Prime Minister John Key attended the National Day Parade in August.

In Wellington, President Tan's first official stop is to call on Sir Jerry, who will host him to a state banquet at his official residence, the Government House.

The President will also call on New Zealand's deputy prime minister and finance minister Bill English, who is the acting prime minister while Mr Key is away on official business.

He will visit the Pukeahu national war memorial park and lay a ceremonial wreath there in honour of New Zealand soldiers who died in military conflicts in service to their country.

New Zealand troops were among the forces that defended Singapore and Malaya during the Second World War.

After Wellington, Dr Tan will head south to Christchurch, the country's second-largest city, parts of which are still being rebuilt after an earthquake in 2011.

He will be hosted to lunch by the city's mayor Lianne Dalziel.

Dr Tan will lay a wreath at the former Canterbury Television headquarters, where 115 people died when the building collapsed in the 2011 earthquake.

He will also be briefed by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority on the city's rebuilding and recovery efforts, to which Singapore contributed.

Singapore sent a 55-member search and rescue team from the Singapore Civil Defence Force and 116 soldiers to help in Christchurch's rescue efforts in 2011.

Singaporean pilots and ground crew also evacuated more than 160 civilians, and airlifted nearly 50 tonnes of relief aid.

While in Christchurch, Dr Tan will meet the Singapore community at a reception. There are 5,400 Singapore-born residents in New Zealand.

The President is accompanied by his wife Mary, as well as Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin, and MPs Vikram Nair and Sun Xueling.

While he is away, Mr J. Y. Pillay, chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, will be acting President.