Wilkie Rasmussen: Charter flights to Tongareva

Saturday July 18, 2020 Published in Letters to the Editor

During the last sitting of Parliament the Member of Parliament for Tongareva Robert Tapaitau, claimed that a chartered plane that took him to Tongareva was for him to go and check the airport for future upgrading. Those doubting this claim can check the Hansard reports.

Tapaitau was responding to a request I made to Parliament under the Official Information Act 2008 for details about the charter because the people on the flight were his wife, his two children and one aunty. No officials, airport related workers or engineers were on it. The plane flew over in late December 2019. Tapaitau and his family were picked up by another charter flight in late January 2020. I was on the island when he was picked up, again exclusively for him and family. I tried to return on that flight but it was not for public travel.

It was explained to me by a Parliamentary staff member that the charter was to take the MP and Minister for a constituency visit. I should add that it was also for a private holiday.

I am looking for answers from the government. Is it now a policy that Ministers can be flown by charter flight for a constituency visit? The policy I understand is that any MP from the outer islands has four return tickets with their spouse on normal scheduled flights. However, we have seen governments under Henry Puna’s leadership charter flights to the outer islands for various, flaky reasons. It is not hard to see the deliberate dig into public purse to advance political agendas.

I know that Tapaitau never held any airport landowners meetings. If he did he would know that the lease to government had expired and the airport lands had reverted back to landowners such as myself and my wife. And that he would need to seek landowners consent first before even proposing an upgrade.

I demand an investigation into the unlawfully approved two charters to Tongareva by those protecting public interest.

Wilkie Rasmussen

Tongareva Henua

1 comment

  • Comment Link Davey Saturday, 18 July 2020 10:54 posted by Davey

    You bloody right mate. Your are a lawyer, figure it out so they will be held legally accountable. If you are the person I think you are then continue and achieve justice for the people of your island. All the best my friend.

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