13 Jul 2009

Tokelau renews plea for new boat

3:24 pm on 13 July 2009

The tiny Pacific territory of Tokelau has renewed its plea for a new boat, saying it represents a lifeline to the three atolls, whose residents are New Zealand citizens.

Tokelau lies several hundred kilometers north of Samoa and relies on the MV Tokelau for transport and essential supplies. The boat was purchased in the 1970s and is now at least a decade past its use-by date.

Tokelau's leader, Foua Toloa, says the vessel is dangerous and unfit for the regular trip across the ocean.

During his visit to the Pacific, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was told that not only are lives at risk, but Tokelau's future depends on safe transportation.

Mr Key says the New Zealand Government is aware of the problem and officials are working on a solution. One option being considered is a 25-year charter at an estimated cost of $184 million.