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New ferry for Tokelau Islands

Friday 5 February 2016 | Published in Regional

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APIA – The new Tokelau ferry Mataliki has arrived in Apia to begin operations between Samoa and Tokelau.

The boat was welcomed into Apia port this week after making its voyage from ship yards in Bangladesh where it was built. The UK-designed ship was built at a total cost of almost US$9 million, funded by the New Zealand government.

Tokelau Transport and Support Services Department director Asofa Fereti said the new boat’s arrival was the end product of years of negotiations and team work between Tokelau administrators, New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and various technical teams. He described the delivery of the ferry as a dream come true for Tokelau.

Tokelau’s population of about 1400 people is entirely dependent on shipping for people and goods, as there are no flights to and from the islands.

The duration of the planned fortnightly trip to Tokelau is still expected to take at least 24 hours for a one-way journey from Apia to the nearest atoll, and four to six hours between the three village atolls, Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo.

Solar panels will be mounted on the rooftop of the passenger deck to help reduce power consumption.

Mataliki’s maiden voyage to Tokelau is planned to start on 1 March. This will be just in time for the General Fono that is due to take place in Fakaofo from March 7 to 10. The new boat will than also be officially welcomed by the people of Tokelau.