Polynesian Leaders Group
Polynesian Leaders Group
|Tuilaepa S. Malielegaoi|
The Polynesian Leaders Group is an international governmental cooperation group bringing together eight independent or self-governing countries or territories in Polynesia.
The idea of a Polynesian regional grouping had been discussed for several years, notably in response to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a regional grouping for countries in Melanesia. In September 2011, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi initiated a meeting with the leaders of Tonga, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands and Niue on the margins of the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Auckland. These initial talks led to a second meeting in Apia which, on November 17, led to a memorandum of understanding formally establishing the Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG).
Announcing the launch, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said the member countries would work together "through this group to seek a future for our Polynesian people and countries where cultures, traditions and values are honored and protected. Where sustainable economic prosperity is achieved, where democratic values are observed, human rights promoted and protected as well as upholding the rule of law." It was also announced that the countries would cooperate in the fields of "education, culture and language, transport, environmental conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation, health, agriculture and fisheries, tourism, trade and investment".
There are eight founding members: three sovereign states (Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu), two self-governing territories in free association with New Zealand (the Cook Islands and Niue), an unincorporated territory of the United States (American Samoa), an overseas country of France (French Polynesia), and a territory of New Zealand (Tokelau). Membership could potentially be extended in future. In September 2011, Niuean Premier Toke Talagi had noted that "we consider New Zealand and Hawai'i, for example, as being part of the Polynesian Triangle so they could very well be part of the members of this Polynesian Group". Tuilaeapa, while also acknowledging that New Zealand was geographically part of Polynesia, said there might be "complications" to inviting New Zealand into the Group. In November, he stated it had been "decided that a state, territory or an indigenous Polynesian population can be invited to become a member or as an observer by a consensus decision of the founding members". A few days later, discussing the founding of the Group with Radio Australia, Tuilaeapa said that Fiji could be welcomed as a member in future. Despite Fiji being usually considered a Melanesian country just outside the Polynesian Triangle, albeit with a culture and political traditions influenced by Polynesia, Tuilaepa argued that "Fiji is within this triangle and its founding leaders considered themselves as Polynesians. Obviously, the current leadership is leaning towards our Melanesian brothers."
The Group does not have a fixed Secretariat at present, despite initial suggestions that one would be established in Apia. The Group held its first formal meeting in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands in August 2012.
 Leaders of the founding members at the time of launch
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi
Prime Minister Lord Tuʻivakano
Prime Minister Willy Telavi
Prime Minister Henry Puna
Premier Toke Talagi
Governor Togiola Tulafono
President Oscar Temaru
Ulu Foua Toloa
- "NZ may be invited to join proposed ‘Polynesian Triangle’ ginger group", Pacific Scoop, 19 September 2011
- "New Polynesian Leaders Group formed in Samoa", Radio New Zealand International, 18 November 2011
- "American Samoa joins Polynesian Leaders Group, MOU signed", Savali, 19 November 2011
- "Polynesian Leaders Group formed in Samoa", Samoa Observer, 20 November 2011
- "Fiji welcome in Polynesian bloc: Samoa", Radio Australia, 22 November 2011
- "Polynesian Leaders Group meet in Rarotonga ahead of the Pacific Leaders Forum", Islands Business, 27 August 2012
- "Polynesian Union finally realized 35 years after". Talamua. 2011-11-18. Retrieved 2011-12-10.