A former Tongan MP and academic says he hopes a new community-run shipping service he is setting up in the Niuas will eventually be extended across the Pacific.
Dr Sitiveni Halapua says the mostly wind-powered service should be up and running in the Niuas within a year.
He says the service now provided by the government and paid for by aid donors is inadequate and a factor in the continual decline of populations in the outer islands.
Dr Halapua says his new scheme, funded and run by the local community, could be applied across the region.
"Well I would like to do that not only in other parts of Tonga but also in other parts of the Pacific. Because, you probably know this, the biggest challenge for any government in the Pacific Islands is really the transportation between main island and outer islands - not the transportation between their main island and the rest of the world."