As Sir Collin walked through the arrival doors, a spine-tinkling ui (welcoming call) by Lavea Puheke called to attention the crowd that a son of Niue of highest distinction has arrived. Standing to receive the ui, it was obvious that Sir Collin did not expect this welcome, which quickly turned into a celebration of beautiful singing and cheering.
This is the first visit of Sir Collin since he was bestowed a Knight Companion of the Order of New Zealand last year as part of the 2022 Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours in New Zealand.
Common Roll MP O’love Tauveve Jacobsen was instrumental in the set up at the airport. She was up early on Monday to decorate the airport as the news that Sir Collin was going to be arriving spread resulting in group of ladies with their guitars and ukuleles turning up at the airport.
Sir Collin was welcomed at the airport with garlands of maile, loud cheers and singing from well wishers, his friends and family including his sister Renee Richardson, all proud to welcome him home.
Speaker of the Fono Ekepule Hima Douglas was there as well as the Director of Taoga Niue Moira Enetama, joining in with the waiting crowd and their kahoa mailes.
The last time this happened at the airport was in welcoming the medal winning Lawn Bowls Team from the Pacific Games in 2019.
Sir Collin Tukuitonga is here as part of a global study by the University of Auckland, where he is the Associate Dean Pacific, studying the impact of heat on health and wellbeing, due to projection of increasing temperatures as an impact of climate change.
The study is funded through a Wellcome Trust grant and involving four countries from different regions of the world, including Burkina Faso in sub-Saharan Africa, India in Asia, Mexico in Latin America and Niue in the South Pacific.
Sir Collin and his team will be meeting with Premier Dalton Tagelagi and Cabinet tomorrow morning before meeting the Village Councils in the afternoon and a public meeting at 3pm at the NDMO.
He will also be on News of the Week Radio programme on Friday from 11.30am talking about this study.