Children on the remote atoll of Fakaofo in Tokelau will soon be travelling to school in style on a new school boat built in Christchurch with support from the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme. The Director of Maritime NZ Keith Manch said the boat will provide safe, reliable transport for around 50 children who must cross a lagoon to get to school each day.
The design and construction of the vessel, by ICON Custom Boats in Christchurch, was jointly funded by the Government of Tokelau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The 12.5m school boat has been named Te Kaniva, a name describing the traditional method of navigating using the stars and weather patterns.
Mr Manch said the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme had worked closely with the Government of Tokelau to develop a design for the boat which would meet the country’s needs and suit its environment and sea conditions.
The $430,000 covered aluminium boat can carry up to 60 school children or 30 adults and has a cruising speed of 6-8 knots (11-15km/h). It is fully equipped with modern safety equipment.
“The collaboration between our Pacific Maritime Safety Programme and Tokelau is part of an ongoing programme of work to improve maritime safety in Tokelau and other Pacific nations,” Mr Manch said.
“What we see in projects like this is a genuine commitment from our Pacific partners to building their capacity to work safely in the maritime environment.”
In Tokelau, the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme has supported the government with:
– developing and implementing a safety management system for their government fleet, including the international passenger ship Mataliki which travels between Samoa and Tokelau
– providing the inter-atoll vessel Fetu o te Moana, which is designed as a passenger ferry between Tokelau’s three atolls but can also serve as an emergency response vessel
– launching a community education campaign targeting the nation’s fishermen, promoting the use of safety equipment and providing training in outboard motor repair and maintenance.
To support the successful implementation of Te Kaniva, the programme will work with the Government of Tokelau to ensure all training and maintenance needs for the vessel are met. Te Kaniva will be shipped to Tokelau next month and is expected to be operating in Fakaofo by May.