NZ Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Murray McCully shaking hands with Tokelau’s titular head, Te Ulu o Tokelau, Afega Gaualofa over visiting the atolls later this year.
|New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Murray McCully accepted a formal invitation from Tokelau’s leader, Ulu o Tokelau, Afega Gaualofa to visit the pristine atolls later this year.
At the bi-lateral talks between the two countries in Auckland earlier this month, Mr McCully did not hesitate when the offer was made – the last official matter on the agenda.
“On the last point first, I accept your invitation,” Mr McCully confirmed. “I am very keen to come to Tokelau. I’m very conscious it is one place I have not been to.”
Officials are now working to confirm a time, which will be dictated by international commitments such as New Zealand’s Security Council obligations, which means Mr McCully cannot be away too long from communications and access to transport in case of a global emergency.
And equally, by nature’s potential influence as noted by Mr McCully’s reference to the meeting taking place, “preferably outside of the cyclone season”.
Taking most factors into account, the trip will likely take place between August and September on a navy asset to avoid disruption to Tokelau’s weekly sea transport service.
It was the first time the two leaders have met since Aliki Faipule Afega Gaualofa took up the Ulu o Tokelau station earlier this year.
Three important developments were discussed in the 30-minute meeting. With the Ulu o Tokelau informing Mr McCully that while Tokelau intend to use her own resources, the hope is that “we can work together to ensure that infrastructure such as sea plane provides a safe transport mode. On the Ship to Shore project, he urged New Zealand assistance to moving it forward more quickly.
Tokelau is close to securing a deal on a telecommunications submarine cable that would connect all three atolls and provide them with broadband services including internet access. Tokelau has taken the lead and Mr McCully has offered New Zealand’s support and assistance with the negotiations and discussions especially on potential issues post cable installation.