23 Jun 2017

Tokelau chopper deal linked to Samoa's Polynesian Airlines

2:07 pm on 23 June 2017

Documents show Tokelau's controversial helicopter buy was part of a proposed deal with Polynesian Airlines to run air services from Samoa to the New Zealand territory.

Earlier this year it emerged the territory had purchased two helicopters as part of an interim air service without consulting the New Zealand government.

Emails obtained under the Official Information Act reveal a Tokelau public servant advised New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority that Polynesian Airlines would be the service operator.

The arrangement also involved a private Samoan tourism company and earlier emails show Talofa Airways was interested in a similar investment.

The helicopter purchases prompted New Zealand's Administrator to Tokelau, David Nicholson, to impose restrictions on Tokelau's capital spending.

Mr Nicholson also commissioned a review into the purchases, which resulted in the suspension of two senior public servants.

Ulu o Tokelau Siopili Perez has confirmed the helicopters will be sold off and emails show Mr Nicholson is now facilitating their sale.

A Polynesian Airlines Twin Otter aircraft at Fagali'i Airport.

A Polynesian Airlines Twin Otter aircraft at Fagali'i Airport in Upolu, Samoa. Photo: Alan Lebeda

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