Dr Colin Tukuitonga

New Zealand’s campaign for Dr Colin Tukuitonga for the position of Regional Director of the Western Pacific Region of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has ended unsuccessfully.

Today, during the WHO’s Regional Committee Meeting for the Western Pacific, Japan’s candidate, Dr Takeshi Kasai was elected the new Regional Director.

Dr Tukuitonga came in second out of the four candidates in the running. Other candidates in the race included Philippines and Malaysia.  If successful, Dr Tukuitonga would have been the first Regional Director from New Zealand and the first of Pacific descent. Dr Tukuitonga was unanimously nominated by Pacific health ministers in 2017 as their candidate for the Regional Director position.  New Zealand subsequently supported Dr Tukuitonga, who is a New Zealander of Niuean origin.

“Although we are disappointed with the result, we are pleased that we fought a good campaign and can hold our heads high,” says Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa who was in Manila to support New Zealand’s candidate in the election.

“The region has made its decision and they have chosen to elect the Japanese candidate. We wish him well in his new role and look forward to working with him in the future,” said Jenny Salesa.