Tokelau head pays tribute to Samoan repatriation help

The newly inaugurated Ulu o Tokelau has paid tribute to Samoa for its role in the recent repatriation of more than 100 Tokelauans who had been stranded overseas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kelihiano Kalolo said words could not adequately express the heartfelt thanks towards the Samoa government and its people.

"They accommodated our requests at a time when they were also desperate to bring their own citizens home."

He said Samoa gave up space reserved for their citizens and resources such as beds in managed isolation and testing capacity.

"Without this generosity, our people would not have been able to make it home," Kalolo said.

The Ulu also praised the cross-sectoral collaboration between Tokelau's three Taupulega Offices and national public service, the Office of the Council Health, Education, Transport, Support Services and Finance.

Outside of Tokelau, he singled out two other special mentions: the Tokelau Desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in New Zealand and a South Auckland Reverend named Iutana Pue.

Tokelau scholars had been scattered across the Pacific including in Vanuatu, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

"And as I take on the Uluship 12-months since that pandemic declaration, I am so pleased to report that the collective efforts by our Tokelau officials and friends of Tokelau have been successful in bringing home our students and families.

"I would also like to acknowledge at this point, Faipule Fofo Tuisano for guiding us through such a challenging year. As a first time elected leader and to be responsible for a country in a once in a generation event like this successfully, we commend your tireless commitment, your courage, and exceptional leadership."

Kalolo pointed to the fact that Tokelau was one of the few locations in the world that was Covid-19 free as a sign of success.