13 Mar 2020

NZ govt announces new boat for Tokelauan school children

2:42 pm on 13 March 2020

New Zealand's government has announced the provision of a new boat for children in Tokelau to travel to school.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Broadcasting and Communications Minister Kris Faafoi made the announcement at a ceremony in Kaiapoi.

Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi during a visit to Tokelau in October, 2018.

Kris Faafoi during a visit to Tokelau in October, 2018. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Mackenzie Smith

Children from the remote atoll of Fakaofo rely on a boat to get them across the lagoon to school each day.

Mr Faafoi said their current boat has reached the end of its useful life

The new 12.5 metre aluminium boat can carry up to 60 children.

It has been named Te Kaniva, which refers to the traditional Pacific method of navigating using the stars and weather patterns.

Mr Peters said it was significant to have the boat blessed by members of the Tokelauan community in Christchurch and to have Mr Faafoi, who is of Tokelauan descent, present.

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Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

The vessel had been undergoing on-water trials this week in Kaiapoi ahead of its transportation to Tokelau.

"We are pleased to have supported education in Tokelau, part of the Realm of New Zealand, through the construction of a safe and efficient vessel that will serve their needs for years to come," Mr Peters said.

The completion of Te Kaniva is the result of collaboration between Tokelau's Department of Transport and the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade programme delivered by Maritime New Zealand.

"The collaboration on this vessel's design, construction and delivery reflects the strong relationship between Tokelau and New Zealand and our shared commitment to keeping our people safe at sea," Mr Faafoi said.