The severe water shortage in Tokelau has been the focus for the Office of the Administrator over the last weeks. New Zealand takes its responsibility to assist Pacific Islands in emergencies very seriously, particularly where they occur in Tokelau.
New Zealand’s initial response to the Tokelau water shortage was to work with the United States government to deliver freshwater to the atolls to assist in the short term.
On 8 October an RNZAF Hercules left New Zealand carrying supplies and personnel to Pago Pago, American Samoa. The supplies included 12 large military water storage containers. In Pago Pago the New Zealand team, joined by New Zealand High Commissioner to Apia Nick Hurley, met up with the US Coastguard cutter Walnut. The Coastguard vessel, which has an on-board water desalination plant for making fresh water, then travelled to Tokelau to deliver water and other supplies.
The operation was a success with the Walnut managing to deliver over 120,000 to Tokelau. The Captain and crew truly appreciated the opportunity to visit Tokelau and many commented on the beauty and uniqueness of the atolls. They were also very impressed by the farewell ceremonies – and in particular enjoyed the opportunity to join in with Tokelauan dancing!
The water shortage has placed a lot of stress on the communities, and I am pleased to see quick and efficient solutions being found. I would like to commend the Taupulega, TALO and the Village offices for their exceptional work in managing the crisis.
I would also like to acknowledge the difficult decision to postpone the 150th Celebrations of the Congregational Church. This was the right decision to make in a national emergency. I wish the Congregational Church the best of luck with their ongoing planning.