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LETTERS: Farewell to Te Kukupa I

Thursday 24 February 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


LETTERS: Farewell to Te Kukupa I

Dear Editor, I have just received an invitation to attend the Police farewell of our patrol boat Te Kukupa I and will gladly attend. As the programme unsurprisingly make no provision for me to say a few words, I count on your charity to print my farewell tribute in this column…

I was the Minister of Police who secured the delivery of Te Kukupa I. What many people did not know was the machinations, intricacies and plots that went on behind the scene. 

First our Prime Minister at the time cancelled the order/delivery, our pro American PM was then suffering from ANZUS pains. He cancelled it without (then) Cabinet knowledge. Once I was alerted, I rounded up the Cabinet and managed to get approval to confirm our order/delivery of the patrol boat. The Prime Minister of Australia at the time was Bob Hawke who offered free patrol boats to island nations in the South Pacific.

I then made the announcement confirming the agreement to take delivery of the patrol boat. This launched all the poison letters and personal attacks against me, in this newspaper. One attack said the patrol boat will never leave port as the government cannot afford to pay the fuel. Later the government of Australia took care of that by subsidising the fuel. I received some toilet paper (unused) in the mail. I took it to mean I was talking what the toilet paper was designed for!

Now 33 years later the results are here for us all to see. Te Kukupa I proved over and over again its overwhelming achievements. The patrol boat arrested illegal fishing boats, prevented incursions by illegal fishing boats in our coastal waters, they did so many search and rescue operations, looking for overdue fishermen, even law enforcement when I ordered the Police to travel to Mangaia to clear the blockade on the airport to cut off air travel from Rarotonga during a dengue fever outbreak.

Above all it tested the ability of the crew to follow the seafaring footsteps of our ancestors. We had nothing but praise from the Australian authorities about the high professional standards of our officers, good maintenance of the vessel and good discipline. That is why Australia was happy to give us another replacement vessel, Te Kukupa II. I say congratulations to all those who have served on Te Kukupa, present and past, for a job well done. 

Farewell to our Princess of Te Moananui o Kiva Te Kukupa I, sail away in all your glory into the sunset and infinity, aere ra … Welcome to our new patrol boat Te Kukupa Rua (II). Aere mai, tere mai, nau mai!  

To our friends, the people of Australia, thank you. This venture keeps alive our long and very close relationship, shall we call our relationship ANZCIs (Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, to replace ANZUS). Thank you, Commissioner Keenan, for the invite.

God Bless everyone.

Norman George  

Former Minister of Police