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Friday 9 February 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in National, Outer Islands, Weather
Heading out through a narrow passage to unload cargo from Taunga Nui. KOREE TINGA/24020802
After four days without electricity and communication,
the resilient community on the remote northern island of Pukapuka found itself
cut off from the rest of the world.
Relieved islanders welcomed the arrival of the Cook
Islands General Transport barge Taunga Nui, transporting the much-needed
diesel, over the weekend, which restored their electricity on Tuesday.
The Northern Group Island had been plunged into
darkness for several nights during the vulnerable cyclone period due to a diesel
The road/bridge to Yato, on the left is the sea and on the right side is the lake. NANE MAEVA/24020866
Taunga Nui arrived in Pukapuka last Saturday night and
started offloading cargo on Monday.
Due to the rough weather Pukapuka is experiencing, Taunga
Nui had to move to the leeward side of the island to unload the cargo by hand.
As of yesterday afternoon, the barge remained on the
leeward side, with unpacking continuing by hand and cargo ferried using local fishing
boats going out through a small passage in the reef.
A resident reported inconsistent electricity and
mobile network since January 17, 2024.
“It’s on and off all the time,” the resident said. “Our
power has been off since last Friday until this week Monday, we are lucky the
boat managed to unload our cargo.”
“When everything went down, no one had any contact
outside of Pukapuka. We have network now, but who knows for how long?”
With the diesel unloaded, Pukapuka now enjoys
electricity from 8am to 4pm and 8pm to 12am daily.
Taro patches were flooded in Pukapuka. NANE MAEVA/24020867
The resident also said they experienced minimal damage
from the recent heavy rain and strong winds, with only flooded taro patches and
While waves reached higher than usual and water flowed
over the road bridge to Yato, the resident assured that “we are all fine”.
“Meanwhile on the other end of the island is calm
where they are offloading cargo from Taunga Nui.”
Koree “Kolee” Tinga assisted with the unloading of the
cargo and took incredible drone images of the process of unloading the barge.
He was pleased to say “Kua akamata ta matou power, kua
rauka ta matou diesel”.
The community rallied together using several fishing
boats to pick up cargo from the barge to the concrete ramp, where it was loaded
onto a trailer and towed by a tractor ashore for distribution.