St Albans’ Lord McNally leads British MPs for talks in New Zealand

The Rt Hon Lord McNally is in New Zealand

The Rt Hon Lord McNally is in New Zealand - Credit: Archant

A St Albans based peer has led a British delegation to New Zealand to discuss a wide range of issues including women in politics and the rebuilding of earthquake-stricken Christchurch.

Lord McNally, chairman of the Youth Justice Board, who has lived in St Albans for over 20 years, is meeting his Pacific Island counterparts and their New Zealand hosts during a five-day visit.

He has led a British delegation, including MP for Luton south and Shadow International Development Minister Gavin Shuker and MP for Hornchurch and Upminster Dame Angela Watkinson, for the talks which began yesterday (Monday).

Members of the UK and the Pacific Island Commonwealth Parliamentary Associations are meeting this week to discuss issues such as women in politics, the impact of climate change and the roles of the Pacific Island Forum and other regional organisations.

Yesterday and today (Tuesday) the delegates met in Auckland to compare their respective roles.

They were also to attend a workshop with the University of Auckland’s Pacific Island Law Students Association and visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum to see the Pacific exhibition and learn more about its First World War centenary work.

The Pacific Island delegates will return to their respective countries later today while the British team will travel on to New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, for meetings with MPs and officials tomorrow and Thursday, before leaving for Christchurch in the South Island on Friday.

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Three years ago, 185 people were killed and several thousand were injured after the city was hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

Lord McNally said: “We are keen to hear about the social issues raised by the need to rebuild Christchurch and how individuals are coping.

“This is a chance for us to discuss some of the issues being addressed in New Zealand and across the South Pacific and to share our respective experiences.

“Communication channels around the world are becoming increasingly sophisticated, but there is nothing like sitting down face-to-face with your colleagues and friends.”

While in Christchurch, delegates will learn more about the relationship between central and local government bodies in New Zealand.

Members of the Pacific Island delegation included representatives from Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.