17 Nov 2016

Pacific needs to rethink shipping services

7:16 am on 17 November 2016

A Tongan academic says the Pacific needs to rethink the shipping services provided to small, remote islands in the region.

Sitiveni Halapua is behind plans for Tonga's remote northern islands, the Niuas, to get a new shipping service that they will own and control.

A trimaran, that can carry a few passengers and some cargo, is being launched by its builders in New Zealand this weekend.

Dr Halapua said because of the often small populations on remote islands all over the Pacific, services are often irregular and usually expensive.

He said he had been approached by leaders around the Pacific who are interested in his idea.

"A group of people here and there is not very big, therefore they are scattered, their needs are scattered as well and it's very difficult for the modern shipping to provide services, because you don't make any money whatsoever. So therefore we have to rethink the way we design boats for small island states."