A ‘dream’ realised for Tokelau
New Zealand Foreign Minister, Tupa’i Murray McCully, is in Apia to participate in a ceremony marking the handover of the new Tokelau ferry, the MV Mataliki.
The ceremony took place at the Matautu wharf yesterday.
“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 says.
“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,” Mr McCully says.
While in Apia, Minister Tupa’i will meet with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, community leaders and local business representatives, and the Leader of the Opposition, Palusalue Fa’apo II.
The “Mataliki,” designed in London and built in Bangladesh, arrived at the beginning of the month.
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.
The new Tokelau ferry replaces a succession of charters from the Samoa Shipping Corporation: the Fasefulu and Lady Naomi have been supplementing trips by the PV Matua which has been doing regular, approximate fortnightly trips for several years until its engine broke down in July last year.
Operations of the new boat will be jointly managed by the Tokelau Transport Department and the company Transport and Marine – whose Operations Manager Dick Mogridge was on hand to also sign off on arrival of the boat in Apia.
Mataliki is capable of transporting up to 60 international passengers at a time, and a relatively small amount of cargo for the three Tokelau atolls Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo. It can carry up to 120 passengers between the atolls.