8 Mar 2012

Call for coronial hearing into Tokelau's Joyita tragedy

5:13 pm on 8 March 2012

An organiser of a commemoration ceremony for the 25 people who mysteriously vanished from the Tokelauan boat MV Joyita in 1955 is trying to get a formal coronial declaration over their fate.

The Joyita left Apia in Samoa on October the 3rd but failed to reach Tokelau's Fakaofo atoll and was found near Fiji five weeks later with neither cargo, passengers nor crew.

A service at the New Zealand parliament in Wellington this week was an opportunity for the families of the missing finally to honour their loved ones.

Luther Toloa says most of them have lacked the means to put the issue before the authorities and have it resolved.

"All the families deserve that irrespective of where you are. That this happened 56 years ago and offshore, Tokelau is still part of New Zealand, the vast majority of those folks who disappeared were New Zealand citizens but none of these has been officially declared dead."

Luther Toloa says there's no evidence that the missing people are alive, which should be sufficient for a coroner to make a formal declaration of death.