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New ferry provides vital transportation for Tokelau

Published: 8:52PM Monday June 11, 2012 Source: ONE News

One of the world's most remote countries has been given a transportation lifeline by the New Zealand Government.

Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae has announced the Tokelau Islands will now be serviced by a new 36-seater ferry that will replace the country's sole, rusting, vessel.

Sir Jerry made the announcement after making the two-day ferry journey from Samoa where he was welcomed by the country's 1,400 residents.

The ferry, expected to cost $6 million for a two-year lease, provides a vital lifeline for the New Zealand territory which is only accessible by sea.

Locals had been weary of using the country's aging ferry after a series of marine disasters in the Pacific region including the sinking of the Princess Ashika ferry in Tonga that claimed 74 lives.

Tokelau administrator Jonathan Kings welcomed the new ferry that complies with international marine safety regulations

"There are lots of ships going around the pacific but not many that comply with national safety rules and one of the requirements we had is it had to be fully internationally compliant."

Tokelau has also requested assistance from the New Zealand Government for assistance to set up an air service.

However, out of four sites identified for an airstrip, the most suitable is where many of the country's residents source their food.

"Tokelau is so small that when you build an airstrip you take away really valuable land from families and that is land that has their coconuts and coconut crab," said Kings.

The new ferry will begin services next month.

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