Cabinet minister Chris Finlayson will represent the New Zealand Government at the Inauguration Mass of Pope Francis I in Rome.
Finlayson said the mass on March 19 would be a "momentous
occasion for the worldwide Catholic community, including Catholics
in New Zealand".
Pope Francis I is the 266th Roman pontiff, the first Pope from the southern hemisphere, and the first Pope from the Americas.
He is also first to take the name of St Francis of Assisi - a gesture of solidarity with the poor from the new leader of an institution long associated with great wealth which is now battling to retain loyalty among its congregations.
"On behalf of the Government, I wish him the best for his term of office and congratulate the people of Argentina on a hugely significant day in the history of that country," said Finlayson.
Finlayson will depart New Zealand for Rome this weekend and will
return on Thursday, March 21.