21 Mar 2017

Tokelau angry over chopper buy

9:20 am on 21 March 2017

Tokelau's leader says the people of the three atolls are in an uproar over the government buying two helicopters.

The multi-million dollar buy angered the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, whose ministry oversees the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau.

The Ulu o Tokelau, Siopili Perez, who took over the post two weeks ago, said he was unaware of the purchase.

He said two inquiries are now under way, while the New Zealand Government Administrator, David Nicholson, was asked to try and sell the choppers.

Mr Perez said the council was told firmly by the people during the General Fono or parliament, on Nukunonu two weeks ago that helicopters are not a priority for Tokelau.

This is a very unfortunate event [that] the purchase of these helicopters has occurred. This purchase has [caused] an uproar for the people of Tokelau," he said.

"We share the Minister [Murray] McCully outburst over this saga, and it came as a surprise to our people."

Mr Perez also added he does not want to pre-empt these inquiries by commenting on who might be responsible for the purchase.

"It's unfortunate that this event has occurred because there was no thorough procedure carried out for that but the people of Tokelau are angry really that this thing has occurred," he said.

Siopili Perez said Mr Nicholson was also trying to find buyers for the helicopters.

The Ulu of Tokelau, Siopili Perez, and his wife, Taase Perez, at their inauguration.

The Ulu of Tokelau, Siopili Perez and his wife, Taase Perez, at their inauguration. Photo: SUPPLIED / Tokelau government