Thursday 28th May brought the arrival of the first rotation of the Claymore II carrying tourists, visitors, returning resident and Government officials including Peter Hayes, Director of the Overseas Territories at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Pitcairn put on a public dinner on the evening of his arrival where most of the community attended and Mayor Christian welcomed Dr Hayes along with Evan Dunn from the Pitcairn Islands Office in Auckland, visitors and returning residents to the evening. The community shared some of Pitcairn’s cultural heritage by singing some traditional songs after a delicious meal, which brought a moving and tearful touch to close an enjoyable evening.
At the public meeting held on 31st May, Dr Hayes expressed his pleasure at having been able to visit the island first hand saying; “there is no substitute for being able to meet and talk with people, and getting a sense of how the place feels.” Noting that it is important to remember Pitcairn’s situation and it is not only about numbers and money, he very much enjoyed the opportunity to engage with everyone and experience the extraordinary and beautiful island.
He went on to say Pitcairn continues to be faced with very real challenges but he is very much encouraged by the more cooperative spirit displayed by Council and the community. He is very pleased to see this phase of working together and encouraged this to continue. He commended the Council’s development of it recent Mission Statement stressing that it is important for Pitcairn to be for all Pitcairners. “This is the time we have to all work together, to use our time and effort effectively so as to come together as a community and as partners,” said Peter.
Dr Hayes stated that access continues to be one of the island’s greatest challenges; for both sustainable tourism, and the community’s social and medical needs. He is committed to exploring more frequent voyages and more cost effective fares for residence, visitors and officials. (Taken from official minutes of the meeting)
Dr Hayes is married with two children and came to the office with a wealth of knowledge and experience as he transitioned from his PhD in nuclear physics, acting head of the FCO’s Counter Proliferation and arms export policy department, and spending a year on secondment as head of public affairs at the London stock exchange.
Shifting to the public service, his most recent diplomatic assignment was as high commissioner to Sri Lanka and non-resident high commissioner to the Maldives from January 2008 until November 2010. He held a number of positions including principal private secretary to former UK foreign secretaries Jack Straw, Margaret Beckett and David Miliband. Dr Hayes also served as counselor in the British Embassy in Washington DC covering energy, environment, science, and climate change, and HM consul general in Washington DC.
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