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Puna emphasises Mangaia visit for handover of machinery only

Monday April 13, 2015 Written by Published in Politics
Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna. Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna.

An official delegation returned to Rarotonga on Saturday after attending a welcome for Chinese-funded heavy machinery on the outer island of Mangaia.

And Prime Minister Henry Puna wanted to reiterate the purpose of the trip, which was solely for the handover of the machinery, said his advisor Trevor Pitt.

Commenting on allegations by the Leader of the Opposition, William ‘Smiley’ Heather, that Puna had also been planning to hold discussions with Democratic Party MP for Mangaia, Tetangi Matapo about joining the government, Pitt said the Prime Minister had the confidence of a governing majority.

“Why the continued rumour-mongering by the Democratic Party about floor-crossing?” he said.

“Your answers may lie in the fact the Democratic Party is on the verge of massive change and in the context of an important conference, there is a lot of internal uncertainty, turmoil, tension and speculation.” 

Heather, who is also acting leader of the Democratic Party, told CINews last week that he had decided to travel Mangaia on the same day as the official delegation.

He claimed the heavy machinery handover was just a ‘cover’ so that the CIP could hold talks with Matapo.

However, the Prime Minister said Heather’s claims were unsubstantiated.

Heather claimed Matapo was aware he was travelling to Mangaia, but when contacted by CINews on Friday, the MP said it was the first she had heard of his visit to the island.

She also said she knew nothing about planned meetings to discuss the future of her career in parliament.

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