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.”

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said New Zealanders in New Caledonia were advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations, “as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn violent”.

“New Zealanders are also advised to monitor local media for developments and comply with any instructions and restrictions issued by the local authorities.”

The Ministry also recommended all travellers checked with their airlines before proceeding to the airport to travel to New Caledonia.

The Ministry was providing advice to those New Zealanders registered on SafeTravel as currently in, or travelling to, New Caledonia, the spokesperson said.

There were currently 31 New Zealanders registered on SafeTravel as being in New Caledonia.

“New Zealanders in need of consular assistance can contact the 24/7 Consular Emergency line on +64 99 202020.”

Solomon Islands PM meeting reflects ‘deep and long-standing’ relationship

In a statement released on Sunday, Peters said the group had been privileged to meet the new Solomon Islands Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele within his first 10 days in office.

“This very early visit reflects the deep and long-standing relationship we share, based on mutual respect and common values.”

The group had also met several members of Manele’s Cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister Bradley Tovosia and Foreign Minister Peter Agovaka.

“This meeting was a welcome opportunity to discuss the new Solomon Islands Government’s priorities for its first 100 days in office, and New Zealand’s development partnership with Solomon Islands spanning priority areas including critical infrastructure, education, governance and economic reform.

“Today’s brief visit to Honiara was the first of a range of high-level engagement planned between New Zealand and Solomon Islands in coming months,” Peters said.

“New Zealand is committed to working closely and building our relationship through political, security and development cooperation, as well as through expanded private sector connections. We look forward to making a further visit to Solomon Islands later this year, as well as to hosting a future visit from Prime Minister Manele and senior members of his Cabinet.

“We also remain strongly committed to Solomon Islands economic reform efforts, as our $3 million contribution to them this week makes clear.”