7 Sep 2005

NZAID to buy ship for Tokelau in bid to improve links

3:46 pm on 7 September 2005

The New Zealand international aid agency, NZAID, is to provide a ship to ensure the remote atolls of Tokelau have an improved service.

Before the end of the year Tokelau is likely to hold a referendum on independence in free association with New Zealand.

It has recently ironed out concerns about its long term financial security and written into its draft treaty with New Zealand are details covering aid commitments.

As well there are allowances for extra budgetary concerns, such as response to disasters and infrastructure projects.

This includes the long recognised need for the atolls to have a better shipping service.

New Zealand's administrator for Tokelau, Neil Walter, says chartering a ship is possible but there are no likely contenders in the region at the moment.

"So it is almost certainly going to be a question of buying an existing hull and converting it to meet Tokelau's specific requirements for passengers, for cargo, for medical evacuations, and so on or building a fresh [ship] based on a design that fully reflects this Apia-Tokelau inter atoll service."