Tokelau keen to get its people stuck abroad back home again

Taupulega general manager Asi Pasilio
Taupulega general manager Asi Pasilio ... "We are preparing for our first repatriation flight in a few years." Image: RNZ

By Lydia Lewis, RNZ Pacific journalist

Plans are underway to help Tokelauans stuck abroad, mostly in New Zealand and Samoa, to return home.

The general manager for the office of the Taupulega (council of elders) of the atoll of Nukunonu, Asi Pasilio, said borders had been shut for more than two years with the country maintaining its covid-19 free status.

Pasilio said no firm date had been set just yet because it depended on the reopening of Samoa’s border.

She said officials were working towards being ready for the first repatriation flight, with quarantine restrictions to take place in late August or early September.

“Currently in Nukunonu and Tokelau we are preparing for our first repatriation flight in a few years, mostly in New Zealand and Samoa,” she said.

“We have essential workers that need to return home. But to do that we need to prepare this by making sure we have the quarantine houses are well set up and the support for their arrival making sure that we have enough health staff to look after the quarantine services for when our people arrive.”

Family again refuses to get vaccinated
A family that has been under tunoa — effectively house arrest — on Nukunonu in Tokelau for the past 11 months has once again refused to get vaccinated.

Vaccinations are mandatory in Tokelau and local councils and village elders are making sure the rules are kept.

Mahelino Patelesio, his wife and two adult children, have been placed under tunoa, to protect the community.

He said it had been a struggle since they refused the vaccination and have been confined to their property on the beach.

Tokelau’s government says it was maintaining tough measures to keep the territory covid-free.

The Taupulega in Nukunonu has not ruled out loosening restrictions and the Patelesio family is expected to be discussed again next week.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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