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Niue leads the way in maritime safety training

5 December, 2017

The first Pacific maritime safety training course of its kind has been completed in Niue, coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Maritime New Zealand, working in partnership with Coastguard New Zealand.

The course is part of MFAT’s Pacific Maritime Safety Programme (PMSP), for which Maritime NZ is providing technical support, and will be provided to all countries provided with search and rescue vessels – including Tokelau next year.

Niue received a SAR vessel from New Zealand in October, with three crew members trained by Coastguard NZ in Rangiora.

Last month in Niue, a Coastguard representative provided training for a further 15 Niueans in VHF radio, GPS and radar use, as well as elements of the Coastguard Day Skipper course.

This is being followed up with training from the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ), including on-water water exercises where the SAR vessel crew will need to demonstrate effective SAR techniques - from towing a disabled vessel to searching for a missing person.

NZ High Commissioner Ross Ardern officially opened last month’s training, stressing the importance of ongoing support for Niue.

“This is part of New Zealand’s commitment to ensuring Niue has all the support it needs to crew the new SAR vessel and conduct effective SAR operations around the island,” he said.

“The SAR vessel is an extremely valuable asset, but it would be of little use without trained people to operate it effectively, and ensure it is maintained properly.”

Niue Police

SAR operations in Niue are managed by the Police. Niue Chief of Police Tony Edwards said the availability of the SAR vessel and trained crew would dramatically improve the time it takes to respond to SAR incidents.

“Niue now has its first dedicated SAR vessel and sufficient trained crew members to ensure it can be launched and operated quickly when it is required in a SAR situation. For the first time, Niue has an immediate first response capability,” he said.

Coastguard NZ Chief Executive Patrick Holmes said: “The Coastguard training syllabus is at the forefront of marine safety and search and rescue practices and as such we are extremely proud to be delivering this training to our Pacific neighbours.”

“Being able to boost and support the Search and Rescue capability in the Pacific is something we have been wanting to do for some time, so we are thrilled to have this opportunity to make it a reality.”

Other PMSP work in Niue includes a public education programme aimed at encouraging a culture of maritime safety; provision of equipment for local fishermen; and working with the Government to enhance the regulatory framework for maritime safety.

The PMSP programme sets out activities as part of New Zealand’s commitment to enhancing maritime safety in the Pacific - focussing on the nations of Niue, Tokelau, Kiribati, Tonga, the Cook Islands and Tuvalu.

Tokelau is scheduled to receive a SAR vessel next year, and will receive similar training for crew.
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