The election of the Speaker was an historical event at the opening of the 17th Niue Legislative Assembly yesterday.
Two names were put forth, first was the name of the former Speaker Hon. Togiavalu Pihigia and the name of Hima Ikimotu Douglas.
The vote by secret ballot went to three rounds. In the first round, both candidates received 10 votes each. The second round of voting resulted in the same outcome a deadlock at 10 votes each.
The Clerk to Assembly Cherie Morris-Tafatu then called for a short recess so she could seek legal advice. She returned and informed the meeting that they will return to the third round of secret ballot voting and if the deadlock remains, then the option is to go to a lot draw. A number of members of assembly did not agree with this option and asked that they vote by a show of hands.
In the third round of voting, the deadlock was broken with Hima Douglas receiving 11 votes and Togia Pihigia 9 votes.
BCN News spoke to Speaker Douglas after the event yesterday
“ I think the first thing that we need to establish we need a restatement of the function of the speaker and the position of the speaker with regard to the operation of the assembly during the debate what exactly is the speaker’s role. I think over the years for one reason or another not putting the blame on anybody, I think the role of the speaker has become blurred somewhat so we need to sharpen up the focus so members know where they’re going. There are other areas that we need to look at for example but that’s something for me to see and discuss with my small parliamentary staff.”
The election he hopes will be the beginning of a new way of looking at how the speaker should be appointed.
“It’s difficult to be precise but I think this has to be the very first time that a rank outsider like me, I have no affiliation with anybody. I managed to gain the speaker’s position I think that augurs well for the future for again for reasons which I go into, the speaker’s appointment has become something of a tug of war and its been used for this purpose, for that purpose, I think my election today I hope that’s it’s the beginning of a new way at looking at how the speaker should be appointed of course there could be some changes to the constitution or whatever but I think the sooner we reach some kind of a consensus with the speaker, I think factionalizing it is not helping the position so we need to…gosh I got a lot to do in the next 3 years don’t I?”
Hima Douglas is a former MP in the Niue Legislative Assembly in 1999 and later resigned to take up the post of Niue’s first High Commissioner to New Zealand in the same year.
He has served as a broadcaster and as a former General Manager of the Broadcasting Corporation of Niue.