13 Jun 2012

Tokelau's Ulu welcomes announcement of new ferries provided by NZ

5:13 am on 13 June 2012

The Ulu or leader of Tokelau is welcoming the announcement of new ferries for the isolated atolls.

The New Zealand government says it will pay for a two-year lease of the PB Matua ferry, which can carry 36 international passengers, to replace the rusting MV Tokelau.

Tokelauans, who are New Zealand citizens, depend entirely on the ferry for transport and supplies and have been waiting for a replacement since 2005.

The Ulu o Tokelau, Keli Hiano Kalolo, says the New Zealand government has also said it will build a new ferry, which should be in operation once the two-year lease is up.

He says the ferries will mean people are able to travel more freely.

"People of Tokelau are quite thankful for this one. Because we have sold the last one because it is not safe for travel, that is the MV Tokelau, and this will allow particularly people from overseas like Australia and New Zealand to have regular visits to Tokelau."

Keli Hiano Kalolo says Tokelauans hope the new ferry being built will be much faster, but its size and speed have not yet been decided.