30 Nov 2017

Tonga's northern Niuas gets new boat link

12:39 pm on 30 November 2017

The man behind a new sailing boat which will transport cargo to Tonga's northern islands says the vessel will change the lives of people in the Niuas.

The 'Utuma'atu before it left port in Auckland

The 'Utuma'atu before it left port in Auckland Photo: MFAT

Last week the 50 foot trimaran was commissioned by King Tupou VI.

Sitiveni Halapua, who led the project, said the 'Utuma'atu was about two weeks away from its maiden voyage.

He said the boat would take about 48 hours to sail the 600 kilometres to the Niuas in the northern part of Tonga, and would be able to carry 12 people and two tonnes of cargo.

Dr Halapua said people in the Niuas would now have greater and cheaper access to goods and supplies.

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Photo: MFAT

"It's not just the cost, the regularity of supply. The ability of the Niua people to be able to get their gas supply on a weekly, if not two weekly basis. This is something completely new for them, because before that they would get the supply at least, if not two months, it's going to be three months."