25 Feb 2013

Tokelau cabinet minister stood down for disturbing relations with NZ

3:33 pm on 25 February 2013

The head of the public service in Tokelau says a Tokelau cabinet minister was stripped of his portfolios because he disturbed relations with New Zealand.

Foua Toloa was stood down as minister for Finance, Telecommunication, Energy and Transport last year following an incident involving the boat, the MV Tokelau.

The general manager of Tokelau's office in Apia, Jovilisi Suveinakama, says Foua Toloa ordered the boat to sail against the wishes of New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

Mr Suveinakama says Mr McCully viewed the MV Tokelau as unseaworthy and unfit to carry New Zealand citizens.

He says Tokelau elders were concerned because the incident disturbed relations between New Zealand and Tokelau, a New Zealand territory.

He says it was a moral issue for Mr McCully who would have been held responsible if the boat had sunk.