Christopher Luxon has kicked off his first Pacific visit as New Zealand Prime Minister to Niue, which has been celebrating its 50th anniversary of self-governance.

Bilateral discussions between the leaders of both countries begin today

Luxon said today: “I think the relationship is in good heart.

“There’s a lot more for us to do together, and it’s a great opportunity for me to spend time with Premier Tagelagi and talk about issues in the region as well.”

While there’s generally a warm political relationship between the two countries, there are aspects on the operational side that Niue has been unhappy with for years.

Questions are expected to be raised by the island nation’s leadership about how it’s treated as a realm country, with a clear desire for change.

Niue premier Dalton Tagelagi has said he believed the small island nation was sometimes “micromanaged”.

“I think it’s just a matter of reminding officials and Parliamentarians: ‘Hey we have that unique agreement in place.’”

The late premier, Toke Talagi, previously criticised what he viewed as a disconnect in how the two countries envisioned the relationship.

Niue became self-governing half a century ago, but New Zealand remains constitutionally obligated to provide necessary economic and administrative assistance

The country received $126 million (US$77 million) over the last three years.

New Zealand treats it as standard foreign aid requiring accountability, whereas Niue wants more autonomy through direct financial transfers to allocate the funds.

The island nation is located around 3000km northeast of New Zealand, with a population of around 1500. After Niue, Luxon will visit Fiji, which is Aotearoa’s biggest trading partner amongst Pacific Island countries.