Prime ministers and presidents from a host of Pacific nations gathered in Nadi at the weekend to cement a deal that will see Kiribati formally return to the forum — known as the Suva Agreement — after a prolonged leadership dispute.
Kiribati signed the agreement on Friday night in Nadi — part of a compromise deal which will see the PIF secretary-general position handed to Waqa next year.
Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the sidelines of the event, the president of the Federated States of Micronesia David Panuelo said the Pacific family would "never be fractured again".
"We have been extending the olive branch and they [Kiribati] accepted," he said.
Micronesian nations had agreed that Nauru would select the next secretary-general under the pact, and Panuelo confirmed Waqa would take the position from 2024.
The meeting came against a backdrop of intensifying competition between the United States and China in the Pacific.
Both great powers have recently appointed special envoys for the region, while Micronesian leaders earlier this month flagged a likely visit to the region by US President Joe Biden.
Pacific leaders also discussed building stronger ties with Washington, potentially by establishing a new "Special Envoy" office in the US, which would give the Forum Secretariat better access to both the US government and the United Nations in New York.
Fiji's Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka — who was instrumental in bringing Kiribati back into the organisation after travelling to the country in June to meet President Taneti Maamau — said he gave a clear message to fellow Pacific leaders during the meeting.
"Now we're back together, please don't disrupt it again," he said.
The next PIF leaders meeting will be held later this year in Cook Islands.