17 Feb 2012

Tokelau Ulu in New Zealand for ferry talks

1:05 pm on 17 February 2012

Tokelau's Ulu or leader is in discussions today with the New Zealand government on replacing the ageing ferry used for all transport.

Tokelauans, who are New Zealand citizens, rely on the MV Tokelau, which is more than 20 years old, to get to and from the country as well as between its three atolls.

Foua Toloa said three years ago that he had received assurances from both the New Zealand Prime Minister and Foreign Minister that they were considering a ship built for both passengers and cargo.

At that time a spokesperson for the Foreign Minister said that he wanted to ensure that all options were explored and the interests of both the people of Tokelau and the taxpayer were kept in mind.

The Ulu says replacing the ferry is a huge issue for Tokelauans, many of whom live in New Zealand.

He says an improved shipping service underpins the survival of the country's language, culture and identity.