The Australian government’s first representative in Niue, High Commissioner Susan Allen departed the island yesterday after serving for just over a year in the post, which was first established in August 2020.
Ms Susan Allen said that she has been very fortunate to come to a place where she has been welcomed so openly.
“I didn’t imagine that I would be coming somewhere that is so friendly and so welcoming and just so open and welcoming of me. So, I would just like to say thank you Niue for having me and for being such a wonderful host”.
It has been a tricky time as well setting up the High Commission in Niue during the Covid-19 pandemic but for the most part, has been quite a unique experience.
“It’s been a tricky time and we’ve all had to do extraordinary things but in many ways. I’ve probably done well out of Covid pandemic where I’ve lived somewhere where we have had no restrictions, it’s been free and open and we can still give each other a hug on most days “, says Ms Allen.
However, it’s also been quite difficult not being able to travel to visit her family during the pandemic. “It’s been hard that I’ve not been able to travel back home to visit my family but it’s the same for everyone else”.
Since starting in the role, Ms Allen says that some of the most significant contributions of the Australian government has been partnering with the Niue government on the Waste Management project.
“In terms of the projects I think probably the most significant project will be the waste management project and we’re quite proud of that. Waste management is a very big issue for a small island country like Niue so we’re very happy that we can partner with Niue to help resolve some of those issues and looking forward to doing more work in that field”.
The Australian government also provides scholarship opportunities for Niue students and something she intends to continue to help with when she gets back to Canberra. “We’re very happy that we’ve been able to contribute to providing scholarships to young Niuean school leavers.
“I think it’s fairly difficult for someone whose outside Niue to actually understand how important education is for Niue. The opportunities here are quite limited and the importance of having good sound tertiary education for Niuean school leavers that will encourage them to come back and give back to Niue.
“I think it’s such an important thing and I think if you’re not in Niue you don’t quite understand how significant an issue that is for Niue. I know the Premier has been keen for us to expand a little more and that’s something I’ve been working on and hopefully, I can continue to give a little push to when I’m back in Canberra”.
Ms Allen says that she is also pleased that the Australian government has been able to contribute to the building of the new Fale Fono. “But we’re also very pleased to make even a modest contribution to the new Fale Fono which is a great thing for Niue and we’re very happy that we can be a part of that as well”.
Her last official public duty was representing the Australian government at the 47th celebrations of Niue attaining self-government two weeks ago.
She posted her message on the Australian High Commission’s Niue Facebook page.
“Congratulations to the Government and people of Niue as you celebrate today the 47th anniversary of self-government. Australia is a proud partner of Niue and we look forward to continuing to work closely together towards a more prosperous and sustainable Niue.
“I am delighted to be here today, as Australia’s representative, to participate in this significant event”.
Susan told BCN news that she is returning to DFAT in Canberra and will likely be there for the next two years, but first, she will spend some much-needed family time at home and doing a bit of gardening.
BCN news contacted the Premier’s office for comments on the departure of the first Australian High Commissioner to Niue and was told that the government will be issuing a press release, which wasn’t yet released when this story was published.
It’s understood that the Premier may make a statement during the sitting of the Fono Ekepule tomorrow.
Ms Allen’s replacement will be announced at a later date.