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Aitutaki’s Xmas supplies in limbo

Saturday 17 December 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Economy, Local, National, Outer Islands

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Aitutaki’s Xmas supplies in limbo
Imua St Johns cargo vessel at Avatiu harbour. 22090717

Shipping delays and cancellation caused by bad weather has put Aitutaki’s Christmas plans on hold.

The festive season is looking bleak for Aitutaki businesses and shoppers who are worried their frozen goods and other items will not land in time for Christmas next weekend.

About 30 containers bound for Aitutaki are with cargo vessel Imua, which yesterday struggled to make its way into Avatiu harbour. The vessel is also carrying much-needed petrol.

According to John Baxter of Baxter’s Water World Aitutaki, who spoke on behalf of other businesses and residents, Imua will not visit Aitutaki to deliver cargo as initially scheduled.

“We just found out today (yesterday), that Imua will dump all the Aitutaki cargo in Rarotonga and head back to New Zealand instead to coming to Aitutaki as initially scheduled,” Baxter said.

“We have been told another boat (Liloa) due to arrive in Rarotonga on Monday will then pick up the Aitutaki cargo from Rarotonga and bring it over. Liloa will have to unload its cargo and reload the Aitutaki containers, and it may take two to three days. By the time it will arrive here it will be Friday and possibly too late for Christmas,” Baxter said.

“We also have visitors from overseas here who are visiting the island for reunions and unveiling ceremonies this coming week. They have their items on the boat including headstones. They have been planning for these events for about a year.”

Baxter said his company had seven containers of frozen goods and alcohol beverages aboard.

“We are running out of stuff,” he said.

“This is not the first time this has happened to us. If it happened at any other time of the year its fine. But this close to Christmas is very disappointing.”

Matson agent Excil Shipping’s general manager Maru Apera said the container ship Imua was due to berth at Avatiu harbour on Saturday, weather depending. 

“The containers bound for Aitutaki will then, weather also permitting, be picked up on December 19 by the container ship Liloa, and arrive on December 21.

“This is not a decision that Matson would take lightly,” Apera said.

“We’re very much at the mercy of the weather.”

Apera said it had received assurances that the supplies would be delivered to Aitutaki before Christmas.

“But Mother Nature pretty much dictates what will happen next. It’s cyclone season, and safety is paramount.”