21 Nov 2003

Tokelau puts unauthorised boat berth in American Samoa down to misunderstanding

12:04 pm on 21 November 2003

The director of Transport for the Office of Tokelau Affairs, Zak Patelesio, says there has been a misunderstanding about the unauthorised berthing of a New Zealand vessel at Swains Island in American Samoa.

American Samoa Harbour Master, Silila Patane, says the vessel, the MV Echo, committed an act of aggression and violated both international and American Samoan maritime law.

Mr Patane, who wrote to Tokelau declaring his outrage, says he was concerned the boat had been in Tokelau where a measles outbreak had been reported.

He was also concerned the MV Echo could be a spy boat, but Mr Patelesio has confirmed the vessel is chartered by the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

"Apparently what has happened is, on its way back from Tokelau to Apia the boat landed at Swains Island. We had nothing to do with it. We had informed the American Samoa government, so that's it. The matter as far as we are concerned is between their government and the organisation SPREP"