KOTA KINABALU: Sabah and New Zealand are working on a memorandum to boost cooperation between indigenous peoples of both nations.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry together with other ministries and agencies were working on the proposed agreement.
Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew, who is also state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said this after receiving a courtesy call from acting New Zealand High Commissioner Richard Mann at the state tourism ministry’s office here.
“Hopefully, if everything goes well, the memorandum will materialise this year.
“Once the memorandum is inked, it will rekindle bilateral relations between New Zealand and Sabah.
“I am optimistic it will boost tourist arrivals from New Zealand which currently hovers around 10,000 every year,” said Liew who also invited Mann to visit Sandakan in the near future.
Mann, who is making his first trip to the state, said New Zealand formed a special relationship with both Sabah and Sarawak through educational links.
The indigenous people of both states also have strong connections with the Maoris of New Zealand, he added.
“The Minister of Maori Affairs was here last year, so we are focusing a lot on developing indigenous peoples’ links between New Zealand and Sabah and Sarawak.
“It was wonderful meeting with the minister.
“We have a lot in common and will work together moving forward,” he said, adding that the planned memorandum of indigenous cooperation would be a stepping stone to greater cooperation.
Mann said the memorandum seeks to strengthen the friendly relationships between New Zealand and Sabah, and acknowledge the cultural bonds and common interests between Maori and the indigenous people of Sabah.
“The objective of this memorandum is to provide a framework for cooperation between New Zealand and Sabah on indigenous issues and between indigenous people in the areas of language and culture, trade and business, education, tourism, indigenous policy and legislative developments as well as environment and justice on the basis of mutual benefit,” Mann said.
Liew, meanwhile, directed the Tourism Ministry’s permanent secretary Datu Rosmadi Datu Sulai to liaise with the state Education and Innovation, Trade and Industry as well as the Law and Native Affairs ministries to work together to realise the memorandum.