The Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Canterbury has set sail for Tokelau to deliver much-needed infrastructure, including water tanks and solar panels. 

The ship will also stop in the Kermadec Islands to assist other government agencies with re-supply and maintenance activities on Raoul Island. Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour, said the mission to the remote group of atolls in the South Pacific had been several months in the planning. It involved authorities in Tokelau, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, MetService, GNS and personnel from all three Services of the Defence Force. 

“The delivery of essential infrastructure will result in tangible benefits for the people of Tokelau,” he said. “We’re really pleased to be working with other government agencies and the people of Tokelau. Sending a ship to the region with capable people on board and with infrastructure and equipment, it will all make a difference to the daily lives of Tokelauans.” 

The ship is taking 48 water tanks and about 154 tonnes of solar equipment, including solar panels, to Tokelau. The water tanks will be used at schools and hospitals in Tokelau, while the solar panels will be used to upgrade Tokelau’s renewable energy solar system on the atolls of Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu. 

Two Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) NH90 helicopters and a Seasprite helicopter will be used to transport the water tanks and solar equipment on to the atolls.

The equipment will be lowered into a loading zone on land, with no physical contact with people on Tokelau. A team of 20 RNZAF personnel, including air crew and helicopter maintainers, are aboard the ship, along with NZ Army personnel who will help with getting the cargo from ship to shore. 

Also aboard are military hydrographers who will carry out survey work to assist the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade with a site assessment for a proposed airstrip on Nukunonu atoll. 

A couple of tonnes of supplies and equipment will also be delivered to Raoul Island to assist MetService and GNS Science with scientific and maintenance tasks in the Kermadec Islands, with staff from those agencies among passengers on the ship. 

The ship will be away for about three and a half weeks, returning to New Zealand at the end of November.

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