Puna set to go to heal Pacific rift

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Henry Puna, is set to leave the post after just 18 months to try and repair a rift in the organisation.

The five northern Pacific states, Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, vowed early last year to pull out of the organisation.

They were angry their nominee for secretary general, Marshall Islands diplomat Gerald Zackios, had been overlooked in favour of Cook Islands Prime Minister Puna.

The spokesman for the FSM government said the Micronesian states have been given an undertaking by both New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne that Mr Puna is to step down by June.

The Micronesian nations called a summit on Friday and decided, on the basis of this information, to put a pause on their plans to withdraw from the forum.

Once Mr Puna departs the Micronesian countries would be asked to nominate two candidates to contest for the role.

Typically a secretary general, who is appointed to a three-year term, serves six years.

It is understood Mr Puna may continue his work as Pacific Oceans ambassador, operating from an office in Auckland.

There has been no comment from the forum or the New Zealand government.