Tokelau challenge marks Aupito Sio’s start as Minister for Pacific Peoples
Yesterday, Aupito Tofae Su’a Viliamu Sio was on his way to catch his flight to Auckland. It is not an understatement to say he was walking on air.
And who could blame him, it has been a remarkable few days after being sworn in as the Minister for Pacific Peoples in New Zealand’s 52nd parliament, Thursday this week. And historically, the first time that a New Zealand cabinet minister has sworn an oath in the Samoan language.
But it’s much more than history and significant events of the past few days, heck the feeling of overwhelming joy as we talked in Wellington’s departure lounge is the culmination of decades of work that date back to his early labour union days and Pasifika drive to get Pacific islanders into parliament in the early 1990s.
The feature from our exclusive interview yesterday will be published early next week.
But first things first. In the traditional Pacific way of life, first and foremost is to give thanks.
This video is Aupito’s acknowledgement to his supporters, friends, village, and both countries of New Zealand and Samoa. It is also a reality check for Aupito, a one-day old cabinet minister yesterday, about the immediate change to his life – like conducting interviews on the go – even at airport lounges.
Also in line with Pacific traditions, at the end of the video is a Tokelau challenge led by Kalolo ‘Charlie’ Pasilio from the village of Nukunonu. Appropriate since this week is nationally dedicated to celebrate the Gagana Tokelau [Tokelau Language Week].
It is an appropriate challenge that serves to remind Aupito about the people and lands to which his portfolio touches and impacts. Of his duty and those of the 52nd Coalition leaders Jacinda Ardern, Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters and James Shaw of their responsibilities to Pacific home countries – but especially so to its territory – Tokelau.
The full feature article from the interview with Aupito outlining the priority issues for his Ministry over the next three years, and how Pacific peoples issues are championed so they can partake and share equally in the benefits of New Zealand’s economy, social services and potential for realizing aspirations and dreams of a better life than currently.