More Top Stories


Nines in Paradise thrills

9 January 2024


The year in sports 2023

31 December 2023


2023 year in review

31 December 2023

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

Community rallies to bring power back to Pukapuka

Friday 9 February 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in National, Outer Islands, Weather


Community rallies to bring power back to Pukapuka
Heading out through a narrow passage to unload cargo from Taunga Nui. KOREE TINGA/24020802

Pukapuka island was cut off from the world for four days due to no electricity and communication, but now has restored power thanks to a barge arrival despite challenges from rough weather.

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 shortage.

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 fallen trees.

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.