On the small Pacific island of Niue a solitary duck lives in a puddle.

I came upon this duck when on holiday there recently. Someone giving directions told me to "turn right after the duck".

The duck in question simply turned up one day out of nowhere a few months ago. Wind currents have been blamed.

It is now something of a celebrity on the island.


The duck's problem is a housing crisis. There are no wetlands, rivers or ponds on Niue. It is not known as The Rock for nothing. The duck has made its home in a puddle instead.

There are no other ducks for it to do what ducks do. To add to its woes, a local rooster has taken it upon itself to harangue the duck. Attempts to catch the rooster have been unsuccessful.

'Trevor' and the rooster who keeps on pestering him. Photo / Claire Trevett
'Trevor' and the rooster who keeps on pestering him. Photo / Claire Trevett

The lonely duck is a mallard named Trevor, although that bit may have been a fib by someone who knew what I did for a living.

The locals feed it and lug water up to fill its puddle when it has not rained.

The Fire Service and the NZ High Commission pitch in with care. In between, people try to come up with a rescue mission idea.

My first visit to Niue was in 2008 for the Pacific Islands Forum, where I first discovered it had a charm all of its own.

I thought of Niue and the duck when the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru began this week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern copped criticism in some quarters for her decision to get the RNZAF Boeing to drop Foreign Minister Winston Peters, officials and the media off in Nauru before returning to fly her there yesterday.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern fields questions on her use of a RNZAF 757 to attend the PIF. / Video by Mark Mitchell

Pacific Islands Forums can be humdrum affairs, but Ardern was right to judge that not going at all was not an option.

For a start, Australia and New Zealand are expected to take a leading role in the Pacific region and to advocate on behalf of those islands in larger forums. Climate change is a major issue at the Pacific Forum because many of those smaller islands are the canaries in the caves. They are the first and worst affected by climate change.

Later this month Ardern will be heading to the United Nations in New York. So too will many of the Pacific leaders but Ardern will capture a lot more attention.

Ardern could hardly miss a major regional forum in advance of that. It is her first Forum and while she met the leaders of four Pacific countries last year on an island-hopping tour, she has not yet met the wider group.

The other reason to attend herself was because of the rooster in her own puddle - Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

Ardern may have given the Foreign Affairs portfolio to Peters, but that does not amount to a handover of foreign policy.

Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, talks immigration and refugees at stand up during lunch break at the Leaders Retreat. / Jason Oxenham

Peters is NZ First and Ardern is Labour and in some critical areas their stances on foreign policy matters differ. Others need a clear steer on where New Zealand stands.

So sometimes Peters' presence at such events makes it even more important for Ardern to attend as well to provide that clarity.

That was seen in Europe earlier this year, when Ardern had to clarify New Zealand's stance on Russia. It was seen again this week when Peters cast into question Labour's plan to increase New Zealand's refugee quota to 1500. Peters declared no such decision had been made.

Some may wonder what Niue's own refugee - the duck - has to do with this.

There is no relevancy at all, although I did suggest to Ardern the RNZAF Boeing detour to collect the duck on the way back from Nauru. She decided that might not go down well with critics of her travel arrangements, despite my assurance she would return a hero.

This is a less than subtle hint for Air New Zealand and New Zealand's High Commission to get together to get the sorry duck to a more natural habitat - and a chance to find love.

Niue was used as a quarantine area for an elephant before it came to New Zealand, so the duck could argue it has already served its quarantine period.

Mallards are hardly endangered in New Zealand. In fact, Fish & Game estimate about 500,000 are killed in hunting season each year (don't tell Trevor).

But it was a most pitiful sight that lonely duck, king of its puddle, waiting for a koru-winged steed to rescue it.