Tokelau may move its Apia office back to the atolls
Tokelau prepares to move its Apia administration office back to the atolls.
Tokelau is considering how to move its administration office in Apia in Samoa back to the atolls.
The office was set up to improve the remote atolls ability to communicate with the outside world, but the manager, Joe Suveinakama, says there is a push to take the staff and the services back to Tokelau.
He told Don Wiseman the issue came up in consultations last week between the villagers and the country's leader, the Ulu o Tokelau, Salesio Lui.
SUVEINAKAMA: When the Ulu was talking to the villagers, there's a phrase that he used that is actually 'bringing home the catch'. And there's an outstanding issue that Tokelau has constantly wanted, which was the relocation of Tokelau staff based in Apia back to Tokelau. Over the years there has been a lot of reasons why we should not. This is due to infrastructure and transport capacities, or the limitations in these capacities. But I think that the villagers said, 'Look, it's about time that we all work on an upwards approach. Let's all come together and see how we can address Tokelau's future from here'. We will have to address this in a way that it does not jeopardise the quality of service that's currently being provided. So at the same time, what we're doing now is what you call the 'devolution review exercise', where the focus is actually targetted towards improving the quality of public service. Now, there's a paper with the communities since the beginning of the year, it actually highlights some of the recommendations that would change the structure and improve the processes in governments. We're at the juncture where there's a lot of views being put forward. Are we looking at the future modern government of Tokelau, or are we going to stick to a traditional-approach government of Tokelau? These are the issues that are currently in front of the decision-makers of Tokelau, and would be discussed in the upcoming general fono and the fonos after that.
WISEMAN: How many people are based in the office in Apia?
SUVEINAKAMA: There's between 30 to 40 people.
WISEMAN: It's a very substantial place. Where would it go? Which of the atolls would it go to if you were moved back to Tokelau?
SUVEINAKAMA: Well, I think what we're looking at is a sustainable strategy, not an exit strategy. What would happen is directors would move to places where their ministers are actually located. It's something that needs further discussion, but following the discussions with the village, it was quite clear that this was what the villagers, or this is what the communities in Tokelau, wanted to happen.
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