Puna had heard that a Cook Islands police officer, Epii Poila had come to Tuvalu to prepare the local police for the Pacific Islands Forum.
Puna said he was happy to hear this. “It’s all about sharing and helping each other,” Puna told them.
The infrastructure improvements that Tuvalu has made in preparation for the many visitors for the forum was also acknowledged by Puna who was very impressed with it as well.
Puna said: “It’s a privilege to be here for the very first time in your beautiful and small country.”
Puna told the officers he understands climate change, above all else, will be the country’s biggest challenge. But through his discussions he also identified health as a very serious issue for all Pacific Islanders.
The police officers were silent in Puna’s presence and nodded in agreement when he thanked them for the opportunity to foster a close relationship.
One of the women officers, Hililogo Toai, was excited at the Prime Minister’s visit and said she really enjoyed receiving defence training from the Cook Islands.
Toai has lived in Tuvalu all her life and has been a police officer there since 2016.
The training activities they did covered tactical communications, and use of force. Toai said it was specifically about how to deal with drunk citizens.
The police officers also received motorcade training and had instruction for Close Protection Personnel for the numerous dignitaries attending the forum. “We learnt a lot and I enjoyed it,” she said.
They had been busy escorting the Pacific leaders and delegates around Funafuti.
The Tuvalu police also have the responsibility of guarding the streets near the convention centre where the meetings are being held, driving leaders to and from their accommodation and escorting them through the convention centre.
Like Cook Islands, Tuvalu has received a new patrol boat from the Australian government, which has arrived in Funafuti.
Te Mataili II is the second of the new Australian built Guardian Class Patrol Boats.