16 Aug 2017

Tokelau public servant says helicopter purchase not NZ's business

8:24 pm on 16 August 2017

Tokelau's suspended public service general manager says last year's controversial purchase of helicopters was self-funded by the territory and had nothing to do with New Zealand.

Suspended public service manager Jovilisi Suveinakama

Suspended public service manager Jovilisi Suveinakama Photo: sprep

Jovilisi Suveinakama and Tokelau's director of finance Heto Puka were suspended in April pending the outcome of an investigation into their actions regarding the purchase.

Mr Suveinakama said the purchase was part of the air services component of the 2016-2020 strategic plan agreed in 2015.

He said New Zealand had shown past reticence in implementing air services to Tokelau, which he said was based on cost.

But Mr Suveinakama said a massive increase in fisheries revenue presented a game changing opportunity to Tokelau.

"Then it came to a point where Tokelau said, why don't we agree on three things?"

"We agree on what New Zealand can fully fund, what New Zealand and Tokelau can partially fund, and what Tokelau can fully fund," he said.

"And air service and internet cable were two things that Tokelau was going to take on its own under its new budget framework."

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