'Tomorrow the wind will change direction'

Ulu o Tokelau 2015 Statement
Opening of the General Fono
Monday 23rd February 2015,
St Maletino Tepole Talikilagi, Nukunonu
May I first of all convey my sincere thank you to the outgoing Ulu Faipule Kuresa for his good leadership while at the helm in 2014. We have witnessed some of the excellent work Faipule Kuresa has done and I have high hopes that I will still have the privilege of his good guidance in manoeuvring Tokelau's canoe forward.

Secondly I will embrace the analogy from the traditional expression of "Taeao ka Fakatiu te Matagi" to implicate the institutional reforms which has become the focus of recent discourses within the three "nuku." Through this analogy I wish to bring home the message that "Tomorrow the wind will change direction."

Traditionally, before a seasonal change in wind directions,  it is time to start preparations for 2 reinforcing family homes, clearing trees that could become hazards around our communal dwellings and collecting and storing food for what could become weeks of bad weather particularly the westerly wind season. In today's language, the message is simply oneof strategically becoming well prepared for the winds of change that Tokelau as a nation is about to set sail into. That we also need to get out of our comfort zone and to change our attitudes towards our normal service delivery for the betterment of our people.

In this visible and physical ceremony we attest once again to the inner and spiritual strength of the unique oneness  of  Tokelau.  We  must therefore   adjust ourselves to the changing times and still hold on tight to the unchanging principles of our Tokelauan culture. As a people  we  have   been  resilient  and  forever committed to those unchanging principles which have survived the great adversities of the islands we have always called home.

This inauguration ceremony marks a new beginning, a new dedication within our Government, and a new spirit among us all. As Ulu o Tokelau, I can only sense and proclaim that new spirit, but if my people cannot provide  for it, our effort will only be in vain.
You have given me a great responsibility—to stay close to you, to be worthy of you, and to set an example of what you are.
The new Ulu o Tokelau and his wife Taase Perez at their inauguration.
Let us also create together a new national spirit of "Te Faka-Tokelau", one of unity and trust not only amongst the "nuku", but also amongst government departments and our human resources.

Your strength can compensate for my weakness, and your wisdom can help to minimize my mistakes and would therefore seek your patience and understanding while I take the helm throughout 2015 however only together can we steer well clear of any uncharted and turbulent waters ahead.
Let us learn together and laugh together and work together and pray together, that at the end of our 2015 journey we will rest our paddles confident that we have achieved our goals.

Let our recent mistakes bring a resurgent commitment to the basic principles of Tokelau, for we know that if we despise our own government we have no future.

To you the back bone of the village workforces and the national public service it is my plea that we reject the prospect of failure or mediocrity or an inferior quality 5 of life for any person. Our Government must at the same time be both competent and compassionate.

In the Tokelauan spirit the Ulu would like to make a courtesy call on each "nuku" during the coming weeks. There is no other reason than to just reassure the Taupulega hence to seek their blessing in sowing the seed of working together for our children.

Tokelau has on its meeting table a change plan that would significantly guide the future direction of our government. When in session, this General Fono will be asked to consider the recommendations of this plan which were based on the recent Change Team village consultations of which the views and feedback will be used to weave a plan that would be sustainable enough to address our nation's priorities. Furthermore, the main focus of this plan is for a better quality of life for the people of Tokelau.

We   have learned that "more" is not necessarily "better," and given our smallness Tokelau has huge recognized limits, and that we can neither answer all questions nor solve all problems. We cannot afford to do everything, nor can we afford to lack boldness as we  meet the future. So, together, in a spirit of individual sacrifice for the common good, we must simply do our best.

Need I also at this point acknowledge with a very big thank you to the Government of New Zealand for the continued support it has offered Tokelau over the years in terms of the budget and technical assistance. As mentioned earlier, Tokelau's response to a better quality of life is to ensure both Tokelau and New Zealand get the best value for money in our joint commitment for development which has resulted in the proposed Change Plan. Let the deliberations begin because "tomorrow the wind will change direction".
May the catch be only determined by our needs.

Ke manuia ia Tokelau uma Ii te alofa o te Atua. Fakafetai.
Faipule Siopili Perez, 23 February 2015