Speech by Honourable Dalton Tagelagi, Premier of Niue
Niue High School Cultural Day –13th April 2022
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, may I thank you all, the principal, teachers and the students of the Niue High School for including this special milestone of an announcement in your program here this morning. We all highly value and support our Taoga and Cultural Heritage of Niue in respect of our Ocean Space, consistent with the cultural theme you have here today.
- As you should all know by now, Niue is considered a global leader in Ocean Conservation and sustainable development.
- We became recognised worldwide for this important standing when we announced to the world in Malta 2017, Niue’s commitment to establishing 40% of our Ocean waters as a large-scale marine protected area – which is now called “Niue Moana Mahu”.
- Niue Moana Mahu was legally established in 2020 and is 127,000 square kilometres of the surface of our planet and 500 times the size of Niue’s landmass.
- Today, it is my great honour to announce an even greater commitment to this work – the legal establishment of Niue’s entire ocean space as the Niue Nukutuluea Multiple-Use Marine Park – at 317,500 square kilometres – that’s well over 1200 times the size of Niue.
- This is a globally significant contribution from Niue to the Niue Launches New Legal Protection Over 100% of Its Ocean Space international efforts towards supporting the stability of our planet and oceans into the future. This is highly important right now as the impacts of climate change, pollution and over-harvesting are having very real impacts on every corner of the globe.
- These impacts are already visible here in Niue as you all know. We have already lost more than 50% of our coral reefs, we catch less than we have in the past, and while you may be too young to recall the impacts of devastating cyclones, let me assure you, that we are still recovering from the impacts of Cyclone Heta 18 years ago – which erased off the face of the earth our only hospital, only hotel, only museum, our bulk fuel depot and damaged our wharf and many other important government infrastructures, churches and family homes. And most importantly, it cost two precious and irreplaceable lives.
- So, today I want you to know, that these commitments are made in support of your future. As the future of our nation, wherever you end up in your lives and careers, you should be proud to be a leader of global planetary health and security. I welcome your contributions to these efforts, that we today are setting up for your future.
- These commitments to ocean conservation underpin Niue’s economic, social, environmental and cultural aspirations as outlined in our National Strategic Plan, and we are developing an innovative sustainable financing mechanism through the establishment of a Trust that will help us maintain our commitments in perpetuity.
- We are building a sustainable and independent economy that is supportive of ocean health, wealth and environmental integrity. Whilst tourism has been on pause while COVID has been around, we are confident that it will resume when it is safe to travel again, and the tourism spending will be enhanced by these ocean conservation commitments.
- Let me also acknowledge, that this work to date has been possible through the combined efforts of the Government of Niue, through a public-private partnership with Tofia Niue – called the NOW Project, and supported by a range of local and international partners including Ridge to Reef, Oceans 5, National Geographic Pristine Seas, GLISPA and the Blue Nature Alliance. More importantly, the public and children of Niue have all been consulted and contributed in one way, shape or form over the last 6 years of this work.
- Our future of Niue, as you forge in moving forward, we want you to equip yourselves to be ambassadors and drivers of this work and the benefits that arise from it. Learn about our ocean, its resources and how it has underpinned our culture, traditional knowledge, and ingenuity of how we can build a future around its sustainable management and protection.
- In this vein, together with a representative of our partner in this work, the President of Tofia Niue Coral Pasisi, it is our pleasure to present this cheque to the school children of Niue High School and Niue Primary School. This grant is to support your ocean and conservation learning, efforts and passion.
- You are the future ocean and sustainable development warriors of Niue, and if you approach this role with the same excellence shown through your performances today, I am confident we have a bright and prosperous future ahead of us all – and one that is based on the continued respect of Niuean people for our environment and ocean.
Kia Monuina. God bless us all and God bless Niue and the Oceans.