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Existing vessel unsturdy even in sheltered waters

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, August 25, 2009) –A New Zealand Opposition MP wants the government to respond urgently to a request from Tokelau to buy a new ferry.

Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni, who is part-Tongan, says the recent ferry disaster in Tonga underlines the need to move quickly on getting a safer vessel to serve the three remote atolls north of Samoa.

Ms Sepuloni says the urgent need for a new ferry was brought home to her when she was in Samoa as part of a parliamentary delegation, and the Tokelauan authorities took them out on the vessel to demonstrate the problem.

She says even a short trip out in the harbour showed the vessel's problems.

"They just basically took us out in the Apia harbour there. And that water was calm, but the boat was incredibly unsturdy," she said. "That's basically what the Tokelauans were telling us, that if we thought that was unsteady, then surely we must be able to comprehend what they're telling us; that it's incredibly unsafe when they're out there on the open waters."

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