The unrelenting focus by New Zealand mainstream news media on refugees while in Nauru covering the Pacific forum Leaders summit has been criticized by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters.
He was in Nauru this week to meet with leaders from the Pacific region for annual talks around development challenges and priorities.
Peters says New Zealand media’s focus on the refugees detained in Nauru by Australia is unfair to the issues in the Pacific nations hosting and attending these meetings, that should be equally reported on.
"This is a meeting of the Pacific Island countries. These people have been here thousands and thousands of years, including some people in New Zealand who have been a thousand years. So please do not have all the critical issues like climate change, economic sustainability, cyber security, all those issues sidelined for your preference as to what the PIF [Pacific Island Forum] should say now."
"These people's cultures deserve respect and respect from New Zealand they're going to get."
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters speaking to media in Nauru. Photo/ Nauru Media News.
Peters says that's not to mean refugee-related issues are ignored, but to respect the Pacific issues discussed at the Forum.
"The Pacific Island nations have massive problems of their own, many of them that have not been addressed for decades now and we're here to step up and ensure that other countries and other countries with wealth, we start to deal with them."
"I don't think it's fair in any way, in [terms of] cultural respect, if you're going to sideline on these people here in the Pacific, in the blue continent with all these isolated nations, with your chance at a headline."