ULU O TOKELAU
STATEMENT TO THE GENERAL FONO
MONDAY NOVEMBER 1, 2010
I acknowledge the presence of God’s servant and his message of light and life to guide our deliberations. I also acknowledge the:
Representatives from the Government of NZ
Members of the General Fono & the Council of the Ongoing Government
Fatupaepae of all the villages whom I understand are also here to showcase their handicrafts
The family of Tokelau
I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all those who are here to provide Tokelau a helping hand – Fakafetai – lahi!
We attend this General Fono at a very critical time for Tokelau. Not only does this General Fono mark the end of the first decade of the 21st
century, it also presents far reaching challenges that Tokelau probably has never been confronted with before. At the June General Fono I challenged all of us with regard to the kind of legacy we would like to leave behind.
Last month we had the review of how well Tokelau utilized the Economic Support (ESA) provided by the Government of New Zealand from July 2007 to June 2010. I am advised by the officials that while review suggests that Tokelau has used these funds to support its development priorities, it is evident that more can still be achieved. The analytical work provided from the review points out that our decisions are still not in line with our policies. While we pour funds into health and education it still remains minimal to demonstrate that these are our national priorities. We say we value our women, young people and children we need to show that our decisions in budget are in line with our policies.
We now look forward to the final report of the Review of the ESA and the Public Expenditure Review (PER) which I do understand will provide some of the much needed information to guide the discussions of the next ESA for 2011/12 onwards.
In talking about moving forward, as the General Fono we have agreed that the Tokelau National Strategic Plan 2010-2015 is our blue print for development for the next 5 years commencing from July this year. While our strategic plan presents a comprehensive working document, our national priorities remain as follows:
“Shipping is the most urgent priority in order for Tokelau to realistically address the critical core services of health and education. Shipping is also the backbone of Tokelau’s economic development and village development under the National Strategic Plan. The construction and completion of schools, hospital and the relevant economic development infrastructure including working towards a robust telecommunication and renewable energy remains pivotal for any sustainable service delivery. The implementation of these national priorities and processes are at the core of our Plan taking into account the environment we operate in and the integrated and collaborative approach required for sustainable development of our country and her people.”
We must act in line with our policies and priorities. One of the most noticeable things from the ESA Review is their observation that TOKELAU IS KILLING ITSELF. The observation conveys that while we are not addressing problems of health service delivery we have made it worse by ordering more junk food and have encouraged a life of reliance on things from abroad. Tokelau, if there is a time we need to ACT and WORK TOGETHER it is today… it is NOW.
This will require the General Fono to be more focused and strategic in its deliberation and be more visible and effective in the villages. To the Chair of the General Fono, you have a huge responsibility on your shoulders and we pray that God will give you wisdom to be clear with our deliberations.
As the Ulu o Tokelau and Faipule, I look towards this session of the General Fono for some important decision as highlighted during the village consultations last week. We will need to realign our budget with funds provided by NZ under the 1 year interim funding arrangement for 2010/2011. We need to respond to the proposals for the short-term shipping arrangement and the future of Tokelau’s transport. We need to be clear with our development priority and needs.
The implementation of the Tokelau National Strategic Plan 2010-2015 is the over arching umbrella for our development programmes. I would ask that the General Fono confirm our priority statement. We will also be discussing the way forward for renewable energy and how we prepare for the construction under the Infrastructure Development Project (IDP)
To Jonathan Kings the Director for the Office of the Administrator and Tiffany Babington the Deputy Director who are our friends and colleagues representing the Government of New Zealand, I thank you for your patience and understanding and I hope that your presence in Tokelau and especially during the General Fono will give you not only a feel of issues that challenge us but to also have a better feel of Tokelau and the ‘faka-Tokelau
Please convey our gratitude to the leaders of the Government of New Zealand and Tokelau wish to continue dialogue and discussions so that we can continue to advance development commitments. Also convey our gratitude to the crews of the HMNZS Otago and the recon teams who were suppose to come to Tokelau at the end of this week. We have been advised that due to some serious fault they are not able to make the visit. We look forward in seeing them in Tokelau in the not too distant future.
In the coming days we hope that the GF will provide the direction for the Council or its representatives to formally approach the NZG with issues following this GF. Given that the Minister of Foreign Affairs could not make it to Tokelau we are hoping to present our issues from the GF to him in NZ hopefully before the beginning of the festive season.
I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Fatupaepae for their initiative during this GF. The Fatupaepae are continuing to demonstrate why they are the backbone of our community. I encourage all members of the GF, our colleagues from NZ and officials to visit and purchase handicraft from their stalls outside. I wish the work of the Fatupaepae all the best.
To end my statement I would like to thank all of us for the 3 years we have worked together in the interest of all of Tokelau. It is only when we all work together that the distinct voice of Tokelau becomes the loudest.
The importance of safety at sea is very critical if we value our lives and that of our young people. Let us address safety at sea in our homes and in our schools, in our villages and in our department, let us address safety at sea as a nation so that Tokelau can be safe.
The issue of safety at sea is one which is quite heavy in all our hearts. We all know too well the importance of this, following the recent incidents here in Atafu last month and earlier in the year. I would like to thank all the villages especially from Fakaofo and Nukunonu for their unwavering support and prayers. I acknowledge the support from the Government of New Zealand through the Royal NZ Air Force and the Rescue Coordination Centre. Likewise, I acknowledge the support from the Government of Samoa through the Samoa Police Force for the use of the MV Nafanua to assist in the search. I would also like to acknowledge the support from the Governor and the people of American Samoa. The support from all whom through their prayers we are able to live through the dark moments. We pray for the souls of our beloved. We also pray that the spirit of Tokelau continue to move as we develop Tokelau. We are addressing our issues and challenges so that we can move ahead with one voice … the voice of Tokelau.
May God continue to bless Tokelau.