Minpacalumni's Weblog

Weblog for former staff of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs in New Zealand

Tokelau Boys 61 Days Adrift

Posted by Sai Lealea on November 27, 2010

FIJI TIMES NEWS – Saturday, November 27, 2010


One of the three Tokelau teenagers rescued after drifting for 61 days, Etueti Nasau, 14, is escorted by Fiji Navy officers and military doctor at the Naval Base in Suva

AFTER 61 days of drifting at sea and numerous search and rescue missions, three Tokelau teens were finally rescued when a New Zealand fishing vessel spotted them early this week.

In a media briefing yesterday afternoon, Fiji’s navy commander Francis Kean said they successfully transferred Etueni Nasau, 14, Samu Pelesa and Filo Pelesa, both 15, from the San Nikunau, on to the naval vessel, Kula, at 4am yesterday in Fiji’s exclusive economic zone.

“The boys had left their homes in Atafu Village on September 24 in an aluminium boat to visit relatives at Nukunonu, a neighbouring island in Tokelau. Along the way they ran out of fuel and the boat started to drift,” he said.

Commander Kean said the boys had drifted over an extensive area.

“With the rainfall we have experienced, one can only imagine the state of the seas they endured during the journey. Even the commanding officer of the Kula is in awe of how they survived the 61-day ordeal,” said Mr Kean.

He said the teens lived on flying fish, a seagull and sea and rain water.

“A doctor who accompanied them to shore has been injecting fluids into their bodies to rehydrate them. The doctor has said it is still not the right time for them to eat solid foods so they will continue to take in fluids until their bodies are ready.

“I thank God for the second chance given to the three teenagers,” Commander Kean said.

He said the boys’ families had been informed and that immigration issues would need to be sorted between the New Zealand High Commission and the Immigration Department before they could return home to Tokelau.

Also present at the Stanley Brown naval base in Walu Bay yesterday to receive the boys were officials of the New Zealand High Commission, including Phillip Taula, the acting head of mission. The boys are undergoing medical treatment at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

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