16 Nov 2016

Trimaran to service Tonga's Niuas about to be launched

3:38 pm on 16 November 2016

A wind-powered trimaran to provide a more regular shipping service for Tonga's far northern Nuia Islands is to be launched in New Zealand this weekend.

The craft, to be owned and operated by the Nuia community, is the result of several years work initiated by Tongan academic and former politician, Sitiveni Halapua.

Dr Halapua said the Nuias are very distant from Tonga's main island of Tongatapu and because of a very small population, the costs of shipping can be prohibitive.

He said often the people are denied basic goods and services so they raised money for a more suitable vessel.

"We had to design a boat that can provide small cargo, small passengers, but more regular."

The craft is to be launched in New Zealand's Firth of Thames this weekend and will be taken to Half Moon Bay in Auckland for a fit-out before undergoing sea trials on the Waitemata Harbour.

Dr Halapua said he hopes it can sail to Tonga to begin its service to the Nuias at the beginning of next year.