Blessed are the church, the digger, the launch and its trailer

Nukunonu, 1 May 2015 – In a church ceremony today, Father Aro assisted by Deacon Pio Tuia and others blessed the renovated Sacred Heart Church on Nukunonu, the middle island of Tokelau. The century-old church had been badly damaged in successive storms and cyclones. The villagers had renovated the building to the point where it was ready to be transformed from a work site into a place of worship: just in time to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the catholic faith coming to Nukunonu in June.

On the bright and sunny day, the 1-hour service was well attended by many villagers. The red and green windows cast beautiful colours over the hand-carved crucifix, the walls, and the people. The service, in Tokelauan and English, was supported by beautiful singing of the choir under the enthusiastic direction of Niko Aloisio.

After the service followed further blessings: A large digger had recently been brought to the island in parts, and assembled there. Too large and too heavy to be put on atoll in one go, the individual parts had been shipped from China for assembly. The Ulu o Tokelau, Faipule Siopili Perez cut its ribbon to ceremonially declare it (almost) ready for use.

Nukunonu now has a new launch to shuttle people and goods from the village to the fortnightly ferry from Apia in Samoa (at 500 km distance the nearest port to Tokelau). The mayor, Pulenuku Panapa Sakaria cut the ribbon of the barge after which it was also blessed. And so was a new trailer, that allows the barge to be taken on land when not in use.

In traditional island style, the festivities were followed by speeches, song and dance; and of course a feast, in the village meeting house called Talikilagi. And so a special day in the life of this village, so remote from anywhere else, came to an end.

Story and pictures by Jaap (‘iapi’) Jasperse