Parliament's battle for the north

Friday June 07, 2019 Written by Published in Politics

“You know nothing about the north.” Those were the words of prime minister Henry Puna to Opposition MP Tamaiva Tuavera as they got into a brief heated exchange in Parliament.


Tuavera, the MP for Ngatangiia, raised the issue about the poor quality of water in the northern group islands including Manihiki – the constituency belonging to the prime minister.

Tuavera asked what was being done to ensure the northerners had access to clean water.

The prime minister Puna took a jab at the Opposition, saying the water problem was due to a poor work done by the past Democratic Party government.

Tuavera objected: Puna was “getting way off the question”.

But in justifying his earlier response, Puna said he wanted Tuavera to know the history of this problem. “I know it doesn’t make a good listening,” he said. “Sometimes the truth hurts.”

Puna said they had a meeting with a senior official from the Green Climate Fund on potential projects up north.

The official asked for a big project that would have an immediate impact on people. “Water for the northern group was the project I raised with him. You can check with the officials, they have been asked to make sure that this project moves forward as fast as possible.

“We will not rely on plastic water tanks any more. Instead, we will look at concrete tanks for each household – and we are looking at 30,000 litre water tanks ... to guarantee them enough water through the dry period.”

The project would improve the catchment area. “This allowed us to tell our people what we are planning for them ...  especially from these outside sources of funding.” 

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