Puna hopes to heal rift at Pacific Forum

The man at the centre of the splinter in the Pacific Islands Forum wants to do what he can to heal it. Earlier this year former Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna won the race to become the new secretary general.

Among the four other candidates was Marshall Islands diplomat, Gerald Zackios, and his failure to get the top job prompted the five Micronesia members of the Forum to announce they would leave the organisation.

The Micronesian leaders believed they had a gentlemen's agreement that it was Micronesia's turn to hold the role.

In recent weeks efforts have been made to heal the rift and Mr Puna, who started in the job last week, says the political dialogue that is underway is symbolic of the Pacific way of talanoa.

"Let us await the outcome of that process. As the Forum Secretariat, we will continue to serve all Members and I look forward to that ongoing engagement across our forum family," he said.

He said he's committed to working with all member nations to strengthen the forum family.

Mr Puna also said the forum is following closely what is happening in Samoa.

He said the agency is ready to provide help if requested, "I ask each of us across our member nations to keep the people of Samoa in our thoughts and prayers at this time, knowing that Samoa's sovereign process and the world-renowned Fa'a Samoa will prevail at this critical moment in their history."