Tupa’i queried over Mataliki

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Tupa’i Murray McCully needs to come clean on why a New Zealand aid-funded vessel intended to service the Tokelau Islands is delayed, over budget and failed its sea trials, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, David Shearer says.

“The new ship Mataliki which just arrived in Apia, Samoa has been described as a ‘fiasco’ by shipping insiders,” he said.

“The boat was supposed to cost $8 million and be delivered a year ago. Instead it’s only just arrived and is reported to have blown its budget.

“More seriously, the ship failed its original sea trials. 

“It has reportedly been built over its designed weight, meaning it will not be able to carry the tonnage it was built for. It will also not travel to Niue as it was originally intended. International industry sources have described the Mataliki as ‘a dog’ and suggested it will be lucky to last six years in the tropics servicing the Tokelau Islands.

“Currently a Samoan vessel, the Fasefulu will need to also travel to Tokelau at more than $10,000 per day plus fuel, to make up the shortfall. “Murray McCully awarded the contract to build the Mataliki to a company in Bangladesh, overlooking a bid for it to be built in New Zealand by local boat builders. This is typical of an increasingly arrogant and out-of-touch Government who should back Kiwi businesses.

“So far the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been very reluctant to release details, despite the amount of taxpayer money used, and is refusing to release documents under the official information Act. “That’s why Murray McCully needs to come clean. Taxpayers who fund our aid programme have the right to know what their money is being spent on and whether it’s been spent wisely,” David Shearer says. The Mataliki was recently launched in Apia. Tupai attended the launch with the Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Siopili Perez.

 “The Mataliki is a purpose-built vessel that has been specifically designed to carry passengers and cargo between Samoa and the three atolls of Tokelau,” Tupa’i said at the launch. “Tokelau can only be reached by ship so this vessel is a vital lifeline for the atolls.

The Mataliki will sail between Samoa and Tokelau fortnightly, offering a safe, reliable, and faster service for the people of Tokelau.   “We have invested $12.5 million in the design and build of the Mataliki.

The vessel will be owned by Tokelau and operated initially by New Zealand company, Transport and Marine Ltd. “New Zealand is committed to the special constitutional relationship we share with Tokelau and the handover of the Mataliki today is a milestone in improving Tokelau’s connectivity with the Pacific region and the wider world.” Former T.S.S Director, Asofa Fereti, said the new boat’s arrival was the end product of years of negotiations and team work between colleagues  in N.Z. at M.F.A.T. and the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office. Many technical people were engaged to provide input into the initial design and further modifications. 

“It’s a dream come true for Tokelau,” Mr. Fereti said. “We have been waiting for this moment for a long time; let’s hope the vessel proves worth the wait.”

Delivery of the boat from Bangladesh was a year behind schedule because there had been problems with the stability of the boat in its initial design. This has now been fixed and the boat has been making its successful voyage from the shipping yards in Chittagong, Bangladesh since 29 December.

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