5 Oct 2011

Drought-hit Tokelau and New Zealand in discussions over desalination plants

4:24 pm on 5 October 2011

The New Zealand government is in discussions with the administration in Tokelau on how to get desalination units to the drought hit atolls.

Both Tokelau and Tuvalu declared states of emergency last week after an extended drought left both places very short of water.

New Zealand flew supplies, including desalination units, to Tuvalu earlier this week.

Tokelau has no airfields so is reliant on shipping through Samoa, from where bulk and bottled water has been sent over the past week.

The Apia based administrator for Tokelau, Joe Suveinakama, says before the drought, agreement had been reached on the need for desalination plants and improved water catchments in the villages.

"Following the state of emergency we have now actually now procured desalination plants to be sent over to Tokelau, so that process is already underway and we are working closely with the Government of New Zealand to ensure that we can get these desalination plants up to the islands as quick as possible."

The Tokelau government administrator, Joe Suveinakama, says the units are expected in New Zealand by the end of this week.