Department of Transport


Tokelau Transport is responsible for the provision of Tokelau’s Shipping Service which provides the means by which the government implements its shipping service policies. 

The key objective for the Shipping service is to provide Tokelau with a regular, reliable and safe service covering the carriage and transfer of passengers and freight between Apia and Tokelau including also transfers from ship to shore when in Tokelau. 

Competent service provisions and good advice from the department’s management are necessary requirements in the provision of the shipping service.
The Transport services which are provided at the village level, come under the direct responsibility of each Taupulega (Village Council).  Each Taupulega delegates the responsibilities of managing this service to the village General Manager (Director or Coordinator). For example, the Village aumaga (work force) provides the stevedoring in Tokelau, while in Apia a private company is contracted to provide this service.

Currently, Tokelau now operates a government-owned vessel: the Mataliki. The ship can carry up to 60 passengers internationally, or 120 between atolls.  The Mataliki is scheduled to travel to Tokelau on a fortnightly basis. The duration of the round journey varies between 4 to 10 days depending on inter-atoll and national / village activities (training, consultation, Council meetings, General Fono etc)

From time to time, the schedule is disrupted due to unplanned medical evacuations from the villages to Apia.  When this occurs passengers are stranded until the Mataliki has completed the return trip to Apia. The Mataliki is also utilised for Search and Rescue as required by Tokelau for missing boats between the atolls or by Samoa for missing vessels between the two countries. 

As required, the Mataliki is also available to give support during emergencies due to natural disasters.   Samoa Shipping Co vessels are used for additional charters not only to transport passengers during peak travelling times between Apia and Tokelau,  but also when large orders of supplies for government/village  projects are required or when there are national activities which necessitate moving large  groups between atolls.. Additional charters have averaged between10 – 12 per annum over the last 5 years. 
The issues which continue to challenge Tokelau in the provision of a safe and efficient transport service are:
  1. The wide scope of responsibilities and activities encompassed under the role of the Department of Transport – ranging from the commercial activities of the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office (TALO) for the supply of goods to the villages through to arrangements to land cargo and passengers safely at each nuku.
  2. Ensuring safe and efficient wharf handling of cargo and passenger movement.
  3. Maintaining cargo handling and work conditions at a high standard, by reducing physical handling, danger, and bodily strains whilst maintaining the whole original state of the cargo itself.
  4. Improving passenger comfort such as accommodation on the ship, speed and sea-keeping.
  5. Increasing cargo capacity for dry, frozen and dangerous goods to meet current needs and the growing demands.
  6. Ensuring that the new ship specifications will meet operational conditions and the needs of Tokelau, including facilities that meet requirements for medical patients.
  • To provide a shipping service that meets the social and economic needs of Tokelau;
  • To further develop Department of Transport Operations and Shipping Manuals;
  • To ensure that the Tokelau ship is safe and fit for service, and operated according to all the relevant codes, conventions and classification society prescriptions, and crew  possess valid competency and safety certificates including class certificates;
  • To strengthen HR management and capacity of national and village transport staff;
  • To establish and maintain ship-to-shore infrastructure, facilities and equipment to a high standard.
  • To work closely with NZ to identify and implement transport options which best meets Tokelau’s needs;
  • To develop and implement Departmental Operational and Shipping Management Manual for TALO Office, the ship and three villages;
  • To develop and implement a Human Resource Development plan and programme for office staff, ship crew and village workers;
  • To improve channels, install navigational lights and appropriate lighting for night work;
  • To build proper wharf facilities and provide appropriate machinery and equipment for safe and efficient transfer of passengers and cargo handling from ship to shore;
  • To improve boat scheduling to accommodate different needs and priorities.