“We know we didn’t give you a happy last six months, but that is true in all families. There are times of ups and times of downs,” Nauru’s President, Lionel Aingimea has said in his farewell of Dame Meg Taylor, who has finished her term as Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum.
Referring to splits within the Forum that have seen Micronesian members, including Nauru, signal their intent to leave the grouping, President Aingimea said that Dame Meg has “worked tirelessly to try and keep this family together. We’ve always considered you an older sister, with the passion and wisdom of a mother, and someone that Micronesia could always rely on.”
He also thanked Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape for “giving up one of their daughters for six years’ service in the region. It is not always easy when one gives up one of their premier daughters to work in the region.”
Fiji’s Special Envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said Dame Meg “has been a force to be reckoned with in the region and is a reassuring [hope] to a new generation of upcoming women leaders that anything is indeed possible.”
He cited her “hard work and efforts as the custodian for regionalism for the last six years. Her accomplishments speak for themselves. Reforms at the Secretariat; strengthening of regional security arrangements through the Boe Declaration; and the adoption of the Blue Pacific narrative, speaking to our collective identity as a region.”
He also noted that Dame Meg had come into her role at a time “when Fiji’s own relationship with the Forum was at odds.”
“I’m glad we were able to fully restore relations with the PIF family during her tenure. I therefore convey our sincerest appreciation for her leadership and commitment to Fiji and the region. It is also because of this that we remain optimistic that we will resolve the current impasse that we find ourselves in,” referencing the split over the appointment of Dame Meg’s successor.
Dame Meg Taylor said it has been a “great privilege to serve the region.”
“We have achieved much, but there is still much to do. We must ensure all Members and the people of the Blue Pacific feel valued and derive value from the Forum. At the same time, and particularly at this juncture of global history, I sincerely hope that all 18 Members continue to recall why the Forum is a necessary institution.”
“As I conclude my term, I have never felt more strongly about the need for the Pacific Islands Forum. It remains the only regional political institution that provides us with the space to determine our own strategic direction, free from external influence and dependence,” Dame Meg commented.
The new Secretary General, Henry Puna started in the role on Monday, and is currently working from the Forum’s Pacific Trade Invest Office in Auckland, New Zealand, while he awaits flights to resume into Fiji.