Niue gets new SAR boat

30 October 2017
Niue boat arrives
Maritime NZ © 2017

The NZ Pacific Maritime Safety Programme

A new 8.5 metre Search and Rescue (SAR) vessel for Niue took part in Constitution Celebrations recently.

The aluminium vessel was officially presented to the Premier Sir TokeTalagi and the Niue Government by New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Niue, HE Ross Ardern, on October 18.

SAR response vessels for Niue and Tokelau are part of a second phase of the New Zealand Pacific Maritime Safety Programme (PMSP), along with equipment such as lifejackets, rescue beacons and safety training for residents who head out fishing on traditional vaka or canoes, and other craft. In the next 12 – 18 months a 12-14 metre vessel for inter-atoll transport, also capable of SAR operations, is to be built and gifted to Tokelau.

The PMSP is a New Zealand Government partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Maritime NZ, which also works in Kiribati, the Cook Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu on a range of maritime safety activities, including search and rescue, regulatory support, and community education. 

“We want to help Pacific nations build sustainable maritime systems where all levels of government and safety response services link together; fishing boats and communities are better equipped; and countries strengthen their collaboration in the south west Pacific,”  says Maritime New Zealand Project Manager Arthur Jobard.

Mr Jobard says at present the reality is many locals head out into the vast Pacific Ocean with little safety equipment such as life jackets, no extra fuel or back-up outboard motor, and often without any communication device to call for help if they have engine trouble or other problems.

To promote the maritime safety programme in Niue a logo competition has been held with the theme “Always Getting Home”. T-shirts with key safety messages have been distributed during the celebrations, and 50 donated lifejackets were worn by all competitors in the on-water competitions.  They are now being given to fishermen who do not already have lifejackets.

New signage is being installed at sea tracks reminding fishermen to check their vessels, engines and fuel; to wear lifejackets; and to take communication devices, such as a rescue beacon, to call for help.  Next year an education programme will be started in schools so children will understand water and boating safety and discuss it with their parents.  Women’s networks will also be involved in the campaign, as wives, sisters and daughters are often the ones who report fishermen as being overdue.

Other initiatives already delivered in the South Pacific since 2011 include:

  • Refurbishment work to a dockside derrick at Sir Robert’s Wharf in Niue to enable the 3.5 tonne SAR vessel to be launched – as well as provide a safer means of getting local fishing boats and yachts in and out of the water.
  • A response boat and VHF transmitter network for Kiribati, and a maritime safety community education programme to villages.
  • Technical and legislative support to the Government of Tonga, and hydrographic risk assessment of charting areas.
  • Navigation aids, pilot training, and nautical charting in the Cook Islands.
  • A technical analyst for the maritime administration of Tuvalu, updating legislation and preparing for the separation of the operations and regulation of Government ships.

Wider support and training provided by Maritime NZ across the Pacific region includes oil spill response training and exercises, and search and rescue workshops. New Zealand also hosts Pacific nationals in courses such as piloting and SAR officer training.

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