Prime Minister Ardern snubs local media
During her brief visit to Samoa and en route to Tokelau, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declined to grant interviews to the Samoan media.
That's despite two television crews from New Zealand accompanying Ms. Ardern to Samoa and Tokelau conducting interviews with her throughout the day.
But, when asked, the Samoa Observer was declined an interview by her Deputy Chief Press Secretary.
Apia-based New Zealand High Commissioner Trevor Matheson said the decisions on media interviews are made by the Office of the Prime Minister, though his office can make recommendations.
“We always knew this visit was going to be very tight,” he said.
It is Ms Ardern’s first trip on the HMNZS Otago, New Zealand’s off-shore patrol vessel, and only the fourth time a Prime Minister has visited Tokelau since 1945, Mr Matheson said.
“She is going to be out of contact, so she has a massive workload to complete because once she gets on the ship she will be incommunicado with Wellington on a whole range of issues," he said.
He suggested there may have been prior arrangements made with the New Zealand media outlets for interview access.
Samoan media were officially informed Ms. Ardern would be arriving in Samoa on Friday morning, one day before she landed.
According to Mr Matheson, that was because the Prime Minister was too busy to issue a press release - something he offered his apologies for:
“The Prime Minister was extremely busy and her schedule meant there were a number of major issues she was dealing with.
“There were a number of issues which have been developing over the last few days, including the outcome of a court case about Tokelau as well she needed to be briefed on.
“It was merely a – not an oversight – but a case of her not getting around to doing that."
Mr Matheson confirmed the HMNZS Otago will depart from Apia Harbour on schedule on Sunday morning despite heavy swells and recent rough weather.
Ms Ardern is accompanied by Minister Kris Faafoi, the first Tokelaun to hold office in New Zealand, and Ross Ardern, Administrator of Tokelau. (Mr Ardern is the Prime Minister's father).