NZ Governor-General in Singapore on 3-day visit

New Zealand's Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, is in Singapore for a three-day state visit from today.
New Zealand's Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, is in Singapore for a three-day state visit from today.PHOTO: AFP

New Zealand's Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, is in Singapore for a three-day state visit beginning today.

His visit, at the invitation of President Tony Tan Keng Yam, marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries and underscores their close and longstanding relationship.

Sir Jerry has a lunch meeting today with Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. Tomorrow morning, he and his wife, Lady Janine Mateparae, will visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where an orchid will be named after the couple.

This will be followed by a welcome ceremony at the Istana, after which Sir Jerry will have separate meetings with Dr Tan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The President and his wife will host a state banquet in his honour in the evening.

Singapore and New Zealand, which have common characteristics of being small and open economies, share a long and familial relationship. New Zealand was not only one of the first countries to recognise Singapore's Independence but also the first country to sign a bilateral free trade agreement with Singapore, which came into effect in 2001.

There are some 5,400 Singapore-born residents living in New Zealand, while close to 4,000 New Zealanders live in Singapore.

Earlier this year, New Zealand was one of two countries, the other being India, that flew its flags at half-mast to mark the passing of Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on March 23. The New Zealand Parliament also passed a motion to mourn the passing of Mr Lee, whose funeral Sir Jerry attended.

The meeting with Dr Ng today aims to reaffirm defence relations, a key aspect of the two countries' bilateral relations. As members of the Five-Power Defence Arrangements, New Zealand and Singapore share close defence ties, partnering each other in missions in East Timor and Afghanistan.

New Zealand also provides unilateral military training facilities to Singapore. The Singapore Armed Forces has conducted annual exercises in Waiouru since 1997.

The two countries also share strong trade relations, with bilateral trade growing by 16 per cent last year to reach $3.95 billion. Singapore is New Zealand's biggest trading partner in Asean and the fifth-largest investor in New Zealand last year.

During his visit, Sir Jerry will be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on a tour of Singapore's first eco-friendly housing project, the Treelodge@ Punggol. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong will accompany him to the KK Women's and Children's Hospital, to view ongoing research collaboration between Singapore and New Zealand at the Neurodevelopment Research Centre under A*Star's Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2015, with the headline 'NZ Governor-General in Singapore on 3-day visit'. Print Edition | Subscribe