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Farewell 2017

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In this our final post for 2017, we had intended it to be a reflective piece; it is after all that time of the year when we pause to take stock of where we’ve been in the past twelve months. In so doing we may be able to learn from that experience which may help charter a course for the next. One of our distinguished theologians, Dr Matagi Vilitama use the analogy of paddling our vaka; forward momentum is generated only when a backward force is applied with the paddle.

In the end, we decided not to use the broad-brush approach but to just concentrate on one event. This one event contains all the elements that makes life so interesting for those who choose to live on the atoll; drama, intrigue, deception, excitement, betrayal, broken promises and a little laughter.

It would be fair to say that if we have to single out one event in 2017 that occupied our collective undivided attention it would have to be the general election. There were early indications that the Talagi led government was going to face its most serious challenge yet – possibly for the first time since assuming power in 2008.

Alofi from the Air – pic Talaniue.

Those who saw the need for change were quick to draw the electorate’s attention to the ailing health of the leader; the winds of change were about to blow hard over Nukututaha, or so it seemed. However, the hoped for strong winds of change proved to be no more than a puff – a gentle breeze wafting through the palm trees.

The opposition had failed to convince the electorate that they had the means to form an alternative viable administration to that of Talagi. Worst, two of the island’s most capable politicians were ousted – Hon B V Motufoou and Hon Togia Sioneholo. Motufoou had held a cabinet post in both the Lakatani and the Vivian administrations and Sioneholo had served a term in the first Talagi administration.

For the village of Hakupu, this election marked the end of an era. The political life of Hon Young Vivian, a life that was given freely and generously had finally come to an end. There was jubilation for the victor Michael Jackson, but for those who had any sense of history there was genuine sadness; Young Vivian was the last serving member in a group of men and women, the likes of whom we will never see again, who shouldered the responsibility of self-government from its embryonic stage to the present day.

If the opposition had a glimmer of hope leading up to the elections it was reduced to zero when, just days before the country went to the polls, the government announced a massive pay increase for public servants. While the timing was absolutely appalling, in reality, it may have had little effect on the final outcome of the elections.

So what went wrong with those who had ambitions of leading the country? What did they do wrong? Essentially they did nothing wrong – not really.

After 40-odd years of self-government the voting habits of the island’s small electorate has become more or less entrenched. For the common roll, family and personal ties hold more sway than sensible forward looking policies. For the village constituencies it comes down to the basic question size. If mine is bigger than yours, family that is, I win. This is a society where returning a favour takes precedence over any policy.

The play for power did not end with the general elections – a sequel, such as it was, was to take centre stage later in the year when a motion of no confidence in the government was tabled in the House.

Niue Flag – Tuapa Showday 2017 – pic BV.

Opposition members came out with both barrels blazing – but take away the shopping list of complaints on the government’s performance, legitimate or otherwise, what did it all came down to? What was it really all about?

There can only be one answer. Conspicuous by his prolonged absence in New Zealand undergoing medical treatment, the opposition parliamentarians were calling for the Premier to step down. With his gong from the Palace tucked safely in his back pocket, it’s time to call it a day. What the island needed now is a Leader and not a Ruler.

All that argument though, was firmly kicked into touch – nay, not just into touch but out of the ball park in fact – by a very loyal government caucus. The motion of no confidence in the government of Sir Toke Talagi was defeated by a thumping majority. All this was done in the absence of the Knight himself. He was in Auckland.

Monuina e tau foou ma tau fakahelehele!

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Tala Niue, a reliable go to source of local news. Have a happy new year and a prosperous 12 months to come.

    Elections? It’s not rocket science but loyal politicians still blind with greed, whilst the opposition blind with naivety and should not be in representative role. eg. The govt announces pay rises for PS. What does opposition promise? To return to 5 days work, and the pay rise removed. Oh guess what? Who do you think the public servants will vote for? OMG oops. Lol. Yes of course, they will vote for the pay rise. They dont give a hoot who is giving the pay rise. A pay rise is a pay rise. And a four day working week is exactly that. Not worry about the economy of the island. Think about your own pocket first. Hohum. But anyways that is what politics is all about. Manipulating and ensuring your pockets are lined perfectly. BV lose seat? He thought if the Premier can run Niue from Onehunga, well he can run Mutalau while living in Alofi North. Lol. Now comes Sioneholo loss of seat? His heart wasnt into it. He needs this break to consolidate and go again. I wager he will be a future Premier if he gets the right team behind him. Terry Coe? Give it up mate, have a rest and give younger person a go. You waste oxygen in the fale fono, and remember you gave .nu away for peanuts when you were the Minister responsible. O’love Jacobsen? Promised so much but fizzled when it mattered. Overconfident and failed foresight into govt strategy, and betrayal votes by her constituents. Best wishes to you guys at Tala Niue, keep up the good work.

    • Hello Wayne, thanks for your feedback – we too wish you success and prosperity in 2018!

      You have brought up some valid points and I am sure there are many others who shares your views but are reluctant to speak out.

      Yes the Opposition could have approached their campaign differently but I do not blame them for putting their values out there. Admirable on one hand but definitely not the time and place.

      If voters thinks it’s okay to get money for free, then obviously our problems are much bigger. There might be other factors as to why many Opposition candidates failed to get voted but the promise of pay rises would have been hard to discount. Maybe it is time for them to set themselves up properly as a formal political party, with financial backers and so forth.

      Yes we need young intelligent minds with credibility and ethics – that would be a great start. However, I don’t see anything changing unless something drastic will happen or if the old brigade is dropped. Let’s hope the aspiring young politicians who lost this time are still keen, come next election. Its important to insist on our own flavor of democracy, maybe the textbook westminister system is not the right fit for a tiny democracy.

      To me, the system is outdated – the constitution was written in a colonial era by europeans who are not niueans. That in itself is not a bad thing and I understand that it would be impossible (even for niuean lawyers and constitution experts) to write a comprehensive sets of rules that are still applicable 40 years later, taking into account factors like globalization, world trends…etc. Yes its complex, it wouldn’t have been easy to forecast the future nor will it be easy to rewrite the bloody thing. But enough is enough surely – do we not have any bigger aspirations to take matters into our own hands?

      Maybe we do need to go back to our God and start upholding our Christian values. Let a devoted Christian leader rule the country for a change as that will be the best start. Thanks again Wayne, looking forward to sharing more with you and the rest of our readers, in this new year.

      Blessings,
      Paku.

      • Good cheers to all for their 2018 journeys. Just to add to the excellent contributions shared. There seems to be a trend to place fault on the Constitution for whatever perceived shortcomings but the Constitution is just black ink on a white paper document – decision makers are the key players – you cannot prescribe for all eventualities – it is impossible – thus the Constitution is as a rule a general piece of statute law – and its up to the courts to give it meaning if there is doubt/disagreement on its meaning – but again it needs decision makers to take the matter there – but lets be clear – there is nothing in the Niue Constitution that ban/prohibit political parties – again that is an issue for the decision makers to make.

  2. Hello guys,

    Since this is an active forum (sorta), I am thinking of moving to Niue to live.

    Are there any links of government websites for any information? Thanks.

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