PM wraps up Samoa visit

VERNON SMALL
Last updated 07:17 03/06/2014
John Key and Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele
VERNON SMALL / Fairfax NZ
HANGING OUT: Prime Minister John Key and his Samoan counterpart Tuilaepa Sailele hold a joint news conference in Samoa.

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Prime Minister John Key is ending his visit to Samoa with an announcement of a $1 million boost to develop the island nation's tourism sector.

Key wraps up the first leg of his three-nation Pacific mission in Samoa today with a visit to tsunami-hit Poutasi village, where he was made a matai or high chief.

The funding will go toward upgrading visitor attractions, information and access there.

Key first visited the village on the south-east coast of Upolu island in 2009 just before it suffered extensive damage in the October 2009 tsunami.

He returned a few months later and was awarded the chiefly title of ali'i.

He is now known in the village as To'osavili Loane Key which translates as "protect from the winds".

The village was hit again by the 2012 cyclone.

Ahead of the visit, Key said it would be an emotional return and he was looking forward to going back to what is "a magical part of the world".

He will place flowers on the tsunami memorial and receive a briefing on disaster preparedness.

He and his 40-strong delegation then leave for a two-day visit to Tonga, before going on to Niue on Thursday and flying back to Auckland.

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