16 May 2017

Tokelau still to go public over controversial chopper buy

8:36 am on 16 May 2017

The Government of Tokelau has suspended two senior public servants as it continues efforts to find out how it ended up spending several million dollars buying two helicopters.

In the nearly three months since New Zealand raised concerns about the purchase, little has been made public.

Former Foreign Minister Murray McCully was upset New Zealand was not made privy to the sale and the impact on Tokelau's ferry, which New Zealand had mostly paid for, which went into service just last year.

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Photo: 123RF

There were also concerns about the impracticality of running helicopters from Tokelau to neighbouring, but distant, Samoa.

The territory's leader, or Ulu, Siopili Perez, said he was not prepared to discuss the situation publicly given his Commissioner of the Public Service was in Apia preparing terms of reference for an inquiry.

He did say the two staff stood down had been the most senior people in relation to Tokelau's capital development spending.

Earlier, New Zealand sent its administrator to Tokelau where he commissioned an 'independent review of Tokelau's governance of capital development purchases'.

The administrator, David Nicholson, has also been asked to try and help sell the choppers.