NZ moves to arrest Nicholas

Tuesday March 26, 2019 Written by Published in National

A New Zealand arrest warrant has been issued by the Manukau District Court in Auckland for government Member of Parliament Albert Nicholas.

Nicholas, who is facing a charge of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle in New Zealand, was due to appear in the district court yesterday. However, he failed to show up.

The police prosecutor then requested an arrest warrant for the Cook Islands MP, which was granted by the court.

Nicholas, the MP for Avatiu-Ruatonga-Palmerston, was seen on Rarotonga recently. He is still believed to be on the island.

The former Internal Affairs minister initially appeared in the registrar list where he was remanded on bail to appear at the Manukau District Court on February 4, 2019.

Nicholas, who is believed to have engaged a private counsel, entered a plea of “not guilty” during his first appearance. The matter was adjourned to yesterday.

The vehicle he is facing the charge for is believed to be a rental car estimated to be worth about $40,000.

Nicholas was first elected into Parliament in the 2014 elections, after winning the Avatiu-Ruatonga-Palmerston seat under the Democratic Party banner.

He defected to the Cook Islands Party-led government in exchange for a Cabinet position which included minister responsible for Internal Affairs, Youths and Sports, Ombudsman and Punanga Nui.

In 2017, he resigned from his post and as the MP to stand in a by-election in his constituency under the Cook Islands Party banner.

Nicholas won the by-election and resumed his ministerial duties until the 2018 general election in June where he retained his seat despite a lengthy absence from the country due to “health reasons”.

Following the re-election, he returned back to New Zealand to continue his medical treatment and failed to report his whereabouts to the government.

In September last year, prime minister Henry Puna sacked him as a Cabinet minister and appointed Nikao MP Vaine “Mac” Mokoroa in his place.

Nicholas also missed the first Parliament sitting post the 2018 election, in October.

In December, he returned to Rarotonga and in an interview with CI News explained his lengthy absence from the country.

“This year (2018) hasn’t been a good year for me; as soon as 2018 started, there were a number of health issues,” Nicholas then said.

“At the beginning, it was a real concern but it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it kind of picked up other things at the beginning stage … which helped to address it before it became a real concern.

“Somehow 2018 has been nothing but hospitals for me.”

Nicholas said serving people gave him great joy and he would love to continue to work for his community. But he added with his current state of health, he would consider the future of his job as a parliamentarian.

“2018 has been a year where I have considered my life more than anything or anyone. If it required me to leave my job and position here, I would do it any day because it’s a matter of being alive.

“I never wanted this job but what I did enjoy doing is doing stuff for people. It gave me joy serving and working for them.”

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