A New Zealand political delegation led by Foreign Minister Winston Peters will postpone its trip to New Caledonia amid unrest in the island nation.

Marches, demonstrations and riots have been reported as local protesters rail against a proposal from France to amend the country’s constitution. Cars have been burned on the roads, and there had been violent confrontations between protesters and police.

Staff were briefly taken hostage at a prison in the capital Nouméa, before being released, and schools in affected areas were closed on Monday.

Peters’ delegation – which includes Health and Pacific Peoples Minister Dr Shane Reti, Climate Change Minister Simon Watts, Foreign, Defence and Trade Committee Chair Tim van de Molen and Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson David Parker – was set to travel to Nouméa as part of a five-stop tour around the Pacific.

The group departed New Zealand on Sunday and visited Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. The group is about to depart Port Moresby – the capital of Papua New Guinea – to travel to Vanuatu. It will then continue on to Tuvalu.

A spokesperson for Peters said the group was aware of the events in New Caledonia and hoped that “peace and calm will prevail”.

“In discussions with our French and New Caledonian hosts, we have decided to postpone this week’s travel to Nouméa to allow authorities to fully focus on the current situation.

“We look forward to our visits to Vanuatu and Tuvalu, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the New Zealand Defence Force are working on a revised schedule with host governments, said the spokesperson.