China has "growing tentacles" around the world but Prime Minister John Key says he is not concerned about its influence in the Pacific.
Key arrived in Rarotonga this afternoon.
Following a bi-lateral meeting with Cooks Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, he will attend the opening ceremony of the Pacific Islands Forum.
It was confirmed this morning that United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit the Cooks on Friday to take part in the post forum dialogue.
Key said her attendance was "very significant" and showed the United States' renewed Pacific focus.
Clinton will lead the largest delegation to ever take part in the forum.
Key will have lunch with her on Friday and expected to cover a wide range of topics.
"I think it's a great example of how they are interested in what happens here, they are committed to this part of the world and so we look forward to having an opportunity to sit down with Hillary Clinton on Friday."
China also has a large delegation at this year's forum.
Key said China was growing its presence in the Pacific but that was a fact of life.
"They're growing their presence actually right around the world."
The US had a long history with the region and still had territories here, he said.
New Zealand didn't try to stop other countries giving aid, but it did work with other donors in the Pacific to coordinate it.
Key said he was "not worried" about China's influence in the Pacific.
"It's not something you can stop anyway, for a start off, China has growing tentacles around the world, it's been growing a footprint around the world.
"Even if New Zealand didn't like it it's not about to stop."
The focus of this year's Pacific Islands Forum is dealing with the large ocean resources of the Pacific, renewable energy and sustainable development.
New Zealand is to co-host a Pacific energy summit aimed at reducing the regions reliance on fossil fuel.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully announced the summit in the Cook Islands this afternoon.
It will be held in Auckland next April.
"The summit is designed to connect development partners, private sector investors and Pacific countries to help fast-track the region's conversion to renewable energy sources."
There needed to be a move towards clean, affordable energy rather than continuing to rely on fossil fuels, McCully said.
New Zealand is also creating a $10.5 million aid package to help the Cook Islands construct renewable energy systems and supporting the installation of solar panels in Tokelau.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is also expected to make an announcement about boosting the number of woman in high-powered role, including politicians, during the forum.
Key said New Zealand would support her on that.
Australia's asylum seeker plans were also likely to be raised during discussions.
CLIMATE CHANGE LEEWAY NEEDED
Pacific governments need to be given more leeway over climate change projects in their own backyards, a new report says.
Too often programmes to mitigate the impacts of climate change are ad hoc and designated by larger donor nations, it said.
The report was funded by the British High Commission and written by Oxfam. It is to be released in the Cook Islands during the Pacific Islands Forum tomorrow.
British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell said the report validated what people already knew.
''Increasingly the donor countries and organisations, we're all looking at how we can better co-ordinate our efforts and where we are agreed that these are the key things that need to be done, it does give us a focus.''
It was about making better use of existing funding, not about more money, she said.
''That means for every euro, or dollar, or pound, or renminbi, or yen, that more of that translates into impact and delivery.
''The money does [have to] translate into delivery, it can't just be a bottomless pit.''
While there were problems with the level of bureaucracy around funding access, there must also be accountability, Treadell said.
Treadell, who is also the Governor of Pitcairn, sympathised after having to recently wade through a 13 page information booklet about how to fill out an application form.
''We need a better balance and how do you achieve that is the issue at hand.''
Pacific islands have a reputation as idyllic holiday destinations, but they're also some of the countries most affected by the world's excessive fossil fuel use.
The report recommended a government-wide approach for dealing with the impacts of climate change in the Pacific and elsewhere.
Governments must be given the power to create wide-ranging and long-term plans to combat the issue and donor countries should work with them to ensure completion.
It also called for better co-ordination between governments, multilateral development banks and international non-governmental organisations.
''Accessing this climate finance poses major challenges for Pacific countries. Finance providers must address the complex array of funding mechanisms and their lack of co-ordination.''
Ensuring the vulnerable in society, including women, children, and disabled be given a voice was also important, the report said.
Among the 70 recommendations were improving collaboration on climate adaptation and disaster response between different sectors and developing capacity at the provincial level.
John Key said he did not expect climate change to be a big issue at the Pacific Islands Forum this week because the international community was moving slowly on the issue.
''I don't think climate change will be anywhere near as prominent as it has been in other Pacific Islands Forums because my sense is they all recognise that the whole world is moving quite slowly in this space at the moment.''
He expected a general update on climate change and more talk about improving donor co-ordination.
The Government was also scheduled to make a joint announcement with China about a renewable energy project in the Cooks Islands.
''I'm sure it will be debated and it's acutely felt by a number of low-lying countries like Kiribati so without doubt they will raise it.''
Oxfam New Zealand chief executive Barry Coates said more money was required, but what was available could be better spent.
Dealing with the impact of climate change was complex and required a whole-of-government approach rather than focusing on individual projects, he said.
''Rather than donors kind of thinking 'well I've got a good project why don't we just do that'.''
There also needed to be flexibility to try new methods and to adopt them on a wider scale where they were successful, Coates said.
''How to deal with climate change impacts in something where the Pacific is still learning, as are other countries around the world.''
And money for climate adaptation must be kept separate from development aid.
New Zealand has largely integrated climate funding into its aid programmes.
''Money for climate finance needs to be additional to aid funding so you're not kind of robbing funds for healthcare and education and other social priorities to divert it to climate finance.''
WHAT'S THE FORUM?
The 43rd Pacific Islands Forum is being held in the Cook Islands. It started on Monday and runs til Friday. Auckland hosted the forum last year. The annual meeting provides an opportunity for Pacific leaders to come together. All Pacific nations will be represented except Fiji which has been suspended because of a failure to hold democratic elections.
- © Fairfax NZ News