16 Feb 2017

NZ issues Tokelau a 'please explain' chopper purchase

9:12 am on 16 February 2017

The New Zealand Government hopes discussions this week in Tokelau will shed light on the reported purchase of two helicopters by the territory.

TVNZ reports the choppers cost millions but lack the proper certification and would struggle to reach Samoa - the closest major settlement.

The buy infuriated Foreign Minister Murray McCully who said when New Zealand agreed to help finance a new inter island ferry, at a cost of $US8.5 million dollars, the territory's leaders asked for a vessel to carry freight and passengers and ruled out any focus on air travel.

Mr McCully said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs administrator for the atolls was there at the moment seeking an explanation.

"The governance structure within Tokelau is entitled to be assured that decisions of this importance are made only through a proper formal process and New Zealand, as a significant contributor of development support, I think needs to know that the basis on which we make these quite expensive decisions are being honoured by our partners," he said.