Suspensions cause upsets on Atiu

Tuesday December 11, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor
Tereapii Porio Maka Kea and his family. 18121042 Tereapii Porio Maka Kea and his family. 18121042

Dear Editor,

On September 28, 2018, the newly appointed manager for Agriculture in Atiu, Tereapii Porio Maka Kea and the executive officer¬ for the Atiu Island government, Maara Tairi received letters of suspension from the mayor, Upokoina Mokoroa.

Minister Vainetutai (Rose) Toki Brown’s name was also named in the letters. This, I believe, was because the minister was not happy because Porio had got the job at Agriculture, and the executive was suspended because he did not listen to Vainetutai Brown’s advice to suspend him. 

They claimed the executive officer’s process of recruitment was a failure. Then it turned out the other candidate running for the manager’s position was one of the minister’s workers in the Super Brown Shop in Atiu and he did not appeal to the executive officer that he was unhappy with the decision; instead he appealed to minister Rose Brown.

The executive officer used a panel of three people to carry out the assessment of the two candidates, which is a fair way of selecting the best candidate for the job and Tereapii Porio Maka Kea got the job fair and square. It is also interesting to know that Tereapii was the opposition candidate standing against Brown in the last election. The question now is why do they continue to victimise this person? Is this a payback because Tereapii did not support her in the last election? Well, in the first election that got her in the first time as MP, Tereapii was her president for the CIP Teenui Mapumai constituency. She won the seat and then the tail turned around and hit him.

The mayor Upokoina Mokoroa, minister Vainetutai Toki Brown and her chief executive Bob Williams all worked together to suspend the above people. Bob Williams came to Atiu and carried out an investigation himself on the 18 public servants, as if he had the right to do so.

Williams claimed it was the mayor who did the interviewing and he just witnessed it (poor mayor for just following Williams’ directions). Minister Brown met with the executive officer and the mayor and stated that she did not want Kea to be Agriculture manager because he would hinder the agriculture projects that she would be bringing to Atiu. What agriculture projects?

The projects identified, such as the crop bank and agriculture nursery, were already in the pipeline before Brown came in as minister. So does that mean that she can just come and point out who is to be suspended or terminated, because she is also the Justice minister?

What a ridiculous idea of justice for the people of the Cook Islands! This government should sort out the attitude of their politicians. The emails being sent back and forth at the time also said prime minster Henry Puna supported the investigation saying, “proceed with caution”. So the investigation was carried out without the authorisation of the PSC.

We must also remember that Bob Williams is a former policeman and he was using the tactics of an investigator without knowing the proper process for doing this. He and his team collected the evidence required for Tereapii Porio, Maka Kea and Maara Tairi, and of course the mayor asked the Crown to investigate these two while the two government workers were on suspension.

This suspension was later found by the PSC to be unlawful. The outer islands portfolio is not under minister Rose Brown but under PM Henry Puna and yet she continues to dictate to Atiu. Well, people applied for their jobs and she had to ride on the back of peoples’ sweat and moko peni to be where she is today in government.

Mayor Mokoroa and minister Rose Brown also claimed that because there is a special coalition agreement between the PM and the independent Brown, we must not make the minister unhappy, otherwise she will be jumping to another political party (maybe she should be called the Minister for Jumping or for Suspensions). The Cook Islands Party’s top-ranked people are desperately holding on to their well-paid jobs at the expense of the lower class workers who get sacked.

Tereapii Maka Kea and his family have been longtime strong supporters of the CIP in Atiu and he is also the president of the CIP for the Teenui Mapumai constituency. And this is how he has been treated. He has a family to feed and now has an unsure future for his school-aged kids. This is not right under a government which swore to look after the people. He is struggling to take care of his family’s needs, being the only breadwinner in a family with five children and with the cost of living on Atiu very expensive.

Furthermore, the Office of the Prime Minister Chief of Staff Ben Ponia has instructed the Atiu executive officer to run the process of recruitment for Tereapii Maka Kea’s position again because of some technical issues with the process.

The PSC found all to be in order previously, and now the problem has flared up again because Tereapii Maka Kea won the by-election for the Teenui council member last week, in Minister Brown’s constituency. Now this is so very politically driven, and prime minister Henry Puna endorsed it. This may be the time to sort it out in court because no one is above the law - including the ministers themselves.

When are they going to stop doing this sort of thing to a strong CIP supporter and a public servant? Does it mean he is going to be suspended again? How many times do you have to get suspended from a government job in order to make minister Brown satisfied?

The way this government has handled our situation here in Atiu is very disappointing. I therefore appeal to the CIP politicians and government to sort this mess out before it is too late.

“Te akaroa teia tu tei tupu, ta te kopu tangata o te aroa i rave ki teia ngutuare tangata.”

            Tereapii Porio Maka Kea

Agriculture minister Rose Toki Brown replies: Thank you to the motelier and Apii for your political response. We will leave the issue to the PSC to tell us who is right.

I look forward to working with and for all the people of Atiu, and I invite everyone to our new Atiu road opening this Thursday.

Finally, congratulations to Apii Porio for becoming the new Cook Islands United Party candidate for Atiu.

Editor’s note: Brown’s reply also mentioned issues that are being looked into on Atiu involving ICI and Agriculture. For legal reasons, CINews is unable to describe those issues.

1 comment

  • Comment Link Teokotai Glassie Tuesday, 18 December 2018 04:17 posted by Teokotai Glassie

    Might seems sad for Mr Porio, but isn’t that the constitutional power and right of a Government Minister? I could be wrong or misunderstood, it’s no different if the shoes on the other foot, but then again politics always discriminate regardless. Merry Christmas.

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