Chatham Islands ‘run out of fuel’

Kineta Knight
Kineta Knight
Jun 21, 2024 |
The Chatham Islands / CIC.GOVT.NZ

Chatham Islands’ residents have no access to either petrol or diesel, with plans to bring a barge with fuel falling through, according to locals.

A Chatham Island resident told chrislynchmedia.com that council-owned pumps ran out of petrol in May, along with diesel at the pump two days ago.

A notice on the Chatham Islands Council website, last updated on 24 May, said “As everyone knows, we’ve been unable to get a ship over from New Zealand for several weeks, which has seen us run out of petrol at the pumps currently managed by the council. We are doing everything we can to arrange an alternative re-supply of fuel. We are sorry for the impact that this will have on everyone with petrol vehicles and machinery.”

Following a request to the council today (Friday morning) by chrislynchmedia.com as to why this situation was ongoing, the council updated their Facebook page for the first time since May: “The plans to bring a barge with essential fuel to the island have fallen through. We understand the urgency required, and we are working with others from across the island and New Zealand to get fuel here as soon as possible.”

The resident told chrislynchmedia.com, “The boat that usually has our supplies is dry dock until about mid July. Our island runs on diesel so we could potentially run out of power island-wide.”

The island relies on supplies brought to them by the ship Southern Tiare but it is currently undergoing repairs, with authorities unable to arrange alternative shipping.

The Chatham Islands Shipping Ltd website said, “We operate a single vessel the MV Southern Tiare between all ports. The ship is a versatile unit, having been adapted for the carriage of livestock, also it is designed for both break bulk and containerised product including dry, frozen and chilled.”

The 2022 Budget promised the island $30 million for a new vessel. This is yet to eventuate.

The resident said, “Farmers haven’t been able to get stock off island since the start of the year. It’s appalling”

“A barge has been meaning to come and deliver the diesel and petrol for the last month or so but there’s always an excuse as to why it can’t come. It set sail a couple days ago and then went back to Auckland Port,” the local said.

“Chathams’ residents need light on this situation. The council needs to do better so does the shipping company. People can’t drive, fishermen can’t fish/dive, farmers can’t farm,” they said.

The Chatham local said it is the second year in a row the island has run out of both fuels.

“We haven’t lost power as of yet but have been very, very close to it,” they said.

Update: Specific questions put to the council on Friday morning had not been returned at time of publishing, 5pm Friday, but released the following statement from Mayor Monique Croon on Saturday morning:

“Being a remote island community, the Chathams rely on fuel being transported via a ship. The Southern Tiare is the one ship which transports goods to and from New Zealand to the Island. It has been out of service for several months for maintenance in Auckland and was due back by now but encountered unforeseen problems. Subsequently, fuel began to get low, and petrol has since completely run out, and diesel supply is now critical.

“The Island’s electricity is run off diesel, as well as most vehicles. If the Island runs out of fuel, electricity, water and other essential services will be impacted.

“A number of agencies, both on and off Island, have been involved in assisting the Island. These include Chatham Islands Council, Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust, Canterbury Emergency Management Group, National Emergency Management Agency, Regional Public Service Commission, Department of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Transport, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry for Business, Innovation and Enterprise and others.

“We have all been working together on other solutions to get fuel to the Island. We are exploring a range of methods to get this sorted, and have the wellbeing of the community at the forefront of our minds. Difficulties out of our control, including unfavourable weather conditions, have delayed support and hampered efforts to mitigate the situation any sooner.

“We will be keeping the Island up to date with this work.”

Residents who require welfare support during this time can contact Barby Joyce – heartlands@chathamislands.govt.nz, 03 305 0146, 027 379 1242.

Kineta Knight
Kineta Knight

Kineta Knight Booker is a highly experienced journalist based in North Canterbury. She has worked as a reporter for radio, TV, digital and print, as well as an editor of lifestyle magazines in NZ and the UK. Kineta is the Head of Content Development at Chris Lynch Media. Contact: [email protected]

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