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The first national economic summit for Tokelau was officially opened Thursday last week.
Hosted by its northern most atoll of Atafu, Kelihiano Kalolo in his keynote address spoke in glowing terms about his country’s beauty and pristine biodiversity that gives life to their cultural heritage and identity.
As minister for both Economic Development; and Natural Resources and Environment his message to delegates was to come up with a range of ideas, practical experiences, aspirations and innovations on how best to unite the two parts of his portfolio in order to achieve sustainable development in the context of Tokelau.
The summit a culmination of six months planning is “an endeavour to take stock and explore ways to use our meagre resources to improve the quality of life of Tokelau’s people in a sustainable manner,” he said.
Summit delegates from Fakaofo, Nukunonu and international partners are given the traditional Atafu welcome.
The Tokelau context of sustainable development is maintaining a small and beautiful environment by living within its means and maximising opportunities available for socio-economic progress and achievement. This is encapsulated in the Summit theme: Small is Sustainable. And highlighted by the traditional welcome for summit delegates at the Atafu pier.
The Pacific cultural communications tool of Talanoa is used as the central tool to tease out solutions from the interactions, networking and connections from representatives from Fakaofo, Nukunonu, Atafu, members of the Tokelau legislature, Tokelau Government Departments and its partners and stakeholders during the three days of the summit.
Guest speaker, former judge Tagaloa Dr Enoka Fereti Puni is currently the only Pacific islander that is a Legal Consultant to the judiciary in the region.
Responding to a request from organisers, he spoke about his life story to illustrate the importance of moemitiga (dreams) to drive one’s life journey.
Using a language mixture of Tokelauan, Tuvaluan and predominantly Samoan, the entire goal of Tagaloa’s talanoa was to isolate and highlight two important factors that underpin economic development success: Invest in people development; and education.
The importance of Tagaloa’s lifestory highlighted the relevance of his journey as it is generic to the Pacific islands. Born into a life with little money but rich in culture, innovation and taking whatever challenges life offers in stride. From riding the coconut trading boats in the Gilbert and Ellice islands before he was 10-years old, to living in a Fijian bure with muddied water channels during the rainy season, to milking cows and driving taxis in New Zealand to look after and support his younger siblings education – it was familiar, it was authentic, it is life as Polynesians know it.
Tagaloa’s hope that his story will inspire the Tokelauan community to invest more and improve more the education of its people.
Other overseas presenters included Ms Nisha from UNESCO, Muliagatele Georgina Bonin from UNDP, Masuisui J.R. Pereira of Molida and Matson Shipping, Leaupepe Esera Poliko from Samoa’s Business and Enterprise Centre.
The summit was organized by the Department of Economic Development Natural Resources & Environment (DoEDNRE) and proposed to be an annual event and a core activity of the department’s Annual Work Plan.
SOURCE: PACIFIC GUARDIANS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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