The portfolio had been held by Vaine (Mac) Mokoroa, who has now taken over as Education Minister, in exchange.
Edwin Pittman, the chief executive to Prime Minister, said the swap took place in March.
“This reshuffle was prompted by the need to have the Prime Minister and the Police Commissioner (Maara Tetava) work closely together in addressing the various issues confronting the nation in response to Covid-19.”
Apart from the Police portfolio, Puna is also the Attorney-General, and holds portfolios of Energy and Renewable Energy, Outer Islands, Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Public Service Commission, Tourism, and Marine Resources portfolios.
Minister Mokoroa, a former police officer, had been excited about the police portfolio.
“I’m very pleased given my background in policing,” he said then. “I’m happy to go back and see where I can assist. I’ll probably sit and listen to all of the senior staff. I’m curious to see what needs to be looked at and addressed. And if it can be done in this financial year, or next financial year, we will see how we go,” he said after his appointment in 2018.
But later that year, Mokoroa and Tetava had a falling out over the latter’s employment contract.
Mokoroa had announced that Tetava’s term as the top cop had come to an end on November 1, 2018. The tenure for police commissioner was five years plus a rollover of an extra two years. Tetava had finished his seven-year period in 2016.
But Tetava continued in office. And in March this year, Parliament passed the Police (Validation of Reappointment) Act 2020, retrospectively reappointing Tetava as Commissioner of Police from November 2016 to March 17, 2020.
The Act declared anything done by Tetava during this period was “as valid as it would have been if he had been validly reappointed to the position of Commissioner of Police”.