26 Feb 2013

Tokelau leader dumped after losing confidence of New Zealand Foreign Minister

9:59 am on 26 February 2013

The head of the public service in Tokelau says a Tokelau leader was stripped of his cabinet portfolios last year after New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, had indicated he couldn't work with him.

The relationship between Mr McCully and Tokelau's then Minister for Finance, Telecommunications, Energy and Transport, Foua Toloa, broke down after Mr Toloa ordered the dilapidated MV Tokelau to sail against the wishes of Mr MCully.

The general manager of Tokelau's office in Apia, Jo Suveinakama, says Mr Toloa regarded the vessel as seaworthy, but Mr McCully didn't.

The MV Tokelau has since been replaced by a more modern, purpose built vessel, the PB Matua.

Jo Suveinakama says Mr Toloa had to go to ensure a warm relationship with Mr McCully was maintained.

"What is actually an issue for him [Mr McCully] is that this is something the government of New Zealand will be ultimately liable for at the end, and given that he cannot work with Foua [Toloa] - the event has proven to him he cannot work with Faipule Foua - then he actually conveyed his disappointment and his loss of confidence in that regard."