27 Jun 2012

Concern for council unity in removing Tokelau minister

3:55 pm on 27 June 2012

The head of Tokelau's public service says there is some concern about the unity of the territory's leadership council after a minister was stood down.

Foua Toloa, the Faipule of Fakaofo and a former leader, had held the finance and transport portfolios, which have been transferred to the new leader or Ulu, Kelisiano Kalolo.

The head of the public service, Joe Suveinakama, says there was issues between Mr Toloa and the New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully.

"This is a very political and sensitive issue and I think the leaders of Tokelau want to work [closely] with New Zealand, but they're very sensitive to the issue of the unity of the council members of Tokelau, so there is actually some concern, some caution that this matter should be dealt with without the council unity being jeopardised or compromised."

Joe Suveinakama says the issues were over shipping policy.

A spokesperson for New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it is aware of reports that Mr Toloa has been stood down from his official duties.

The spokesperson says there have been concerns in Tokelau about decision making over a long period of time.

The spokesperson says any decision on the removal of ministerial portfolios is for the Council of Tokelau's Ongoing Government and its General Fono to make.