Sacked Tokelau public servants appeal decision

Two former senior public servants of the Tokelau government, who were based in Apia, have commenced an appeal against the Tokelau High Court’s decision regarding the termination of their employment.

The appeal by Heto Puka and Jovilisi Suveinakama was confirmed in a media statement.

The duo had been accused by the ongoing government of Tokelau of making unauthorised purchases of helicopters as part of Tokelau's Interim Air Services development project. They were fired in 2017 after investigations into their conduct. In July 2019, Tokelau's High Court upheld the Tokelau government’s dismissal decision to sack them.

The Court, however, found all of the suspension decisions to “be unlawful in the first-ever substantive decision of the Tokelau High Court.”

“The appeal will allege that the Government of Tokelau failed to treat the

appellants fairly and breached natural justice principles on multiple occasions at virtually every stage of the process,” the statement from Mr. Puka and Suveinakama said.  “These breaches are also breaches of the employment contracts.”

Tokelau is a New Zealand territory, with extremely close connections to Samoa.

“All Tokelauans are New Zealand citizens but the law of Tokelau is different from the law of New Zealand.

“Tokelauans have lesser protection of their rights under employment law than other New Zealand citizens.”

If the appeal is heard, it would be the first ever case brought before the Tokelau Court of Appeal.

The appellants claim that the case will be an “important landmark in Tokelau’s journey towards nationhood.”

Mr, Puka and Mr. Suveinakama have engaged barrister, John Goddard, to commence the appeal.


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