Tokelauans will have more drinking water on tap and are on the way towards greater use of renewable energy following a major logistical operation by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
Over the past few weeks the Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Canterbury has visited Fakaofo, Nukunonu and Atafu atolls, delivering equipment for Tokelau’s development plans.
It wants to generate almost 100 percent of its power from renewable sources and is boosting drinking water collection on the atolls.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the NZDF, working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and people of Tokelau, had delivered key infrastructure for those goals.
“Given the remote location of the atolls and the limited commercial options for getting infrastructure there, we sent a ship, helicopters and personnel from all three Services to move 48 water tanks and tonnes of essential equipment.”
Protocols for preventing any potential spread of COVID-19 were in place throughout the mission.
HMNZS Canterbury Commanding Officer Commander Martin Walker said they had received messages of thanks from Tokelauans.
“The infrastructure delivered will make a real difference, with more to come as they continue with the upgrade of renewable energy sources on the atolls.
“Everyone on the ship was pleased to be doing something useful for our neighbours in Tokelau.”
A Navy Seasprite helicopter and two Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters were carried aboard HMNZS Canterbury.
During the operation:
- The helicopters delivered about 105 underslung and 212 internal loads to atolls which could otherwise only be accessed via narrow sea channels
- Forty-eight 15,000 and 10,000 litre water tanks, 16 for each atoll, were delivered to be installed at schools and hospitals, to ensure clean water is available for community use and as additional emergency storage
- Tonnes of equipment including solar panels was delivered. The last piece of equipment to go ashore was a new generator for Atafu, where a back-up emergency generator has been running for several months
- Military hydrographers surveyed narrow channels to the atolls to build on existing knowledge of routes
- A site for a proposed airstrip on Nukunonu was surveyed to assist the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade with its assessment
- NZDF technicians carried out maintenance on an automatic weather station on Nukunonu
- HMNZS Canterbury also sailed to the Kermadec Islands to drop off and pick up six MetService and GNS Science staff who carried out maintenance activities including of a tsunami warning system and automatic weather station on Raoul Island.