The high tech vessel is not only a proud addition to Australasia’s biggest fishing port.
It represents a huge leap in investment in the country’s deepwater fleet and is testimony to optimism over the sustainability of the fishery.
The $70 million vessel was built over 16 months at the Simek shipyard in Flekkefjord in Norway.
At 82 metres it is not the longest fishing vessel in our waters – the Ukrainian-built BATM class vessels have that claim at 104 metres – but at 4706 gross tonnes it is the largest and certainly the most expensive.
Tokatu is the first deepsea trawler commissioned for the New Zealand fishery since Sealord’s Rehua in 1997.
It is jointly funded by Sealord’s equal shareholders – Maori-owned Moana New Zealand and Japan’s Nippon Suisan Kaisha.
The name is drawn from the Maori phrase he tokatu moana – a rock that withstands the power of the sea. Toka is rock, tu is to stand.
It is a strong name, seen as fitting for a vessel that will be Sealord’s most advanced, efficient, versatile and sustainable.
Like the rest of the Sealord fleet, Tokatu will use the innovative Precision Seafood Harvesting trawl that brings fish to the surface in prime condition.
It is designed to fish all species, including mackerel, southern blue whiting and squid as well as the prime target of hoki.
Nothing will be wasted. The operation includes headed and gutted high-volume species, skinned and trimmed fillets of higher-value fish, high grade fish oil for further refinement ashore and fish meal.
Its capacity is huge – 1300 tonnes of processed fish, 300 tonnes of fish meal and 60 tonnes of fish oil.
That is twice the capacity of the Rehua.
Another innovation is an electric winch package that doubles as a generator.
It will draw power only when needed and when the trawl gear is being shot away it will produce a megawatt of power, sufficient to power the propulsion.
The crew of 75 will enjoy cabins more like hotel rooms and attractive mess facilities.
The vessel also has a fully equipped gym and two lounges – one a movie theatre and the other space to relax in.
For the mechanically minded, it’s a Rolls Royce Bergen nine-cylinder main engine doing the business, producing 5400 kw or 7200 horsepower giving a cruising speed of 16 knots.
“This significant investment by Sealord demonstrates our shareholders’ long-term commitment to the business,” Sealord chief executive Steve Yung said, on hand to see Tokatu steam through the Cut into Nelson Haven, escorted by two tugs and local kayakers.
The public were invited to attend the arrival, warmed by free coffee and a fish (of the chocolate variety).
A karanga and kapa haka from Sealord staff greeted the vessel at the wharf, followed by a waiata.
Tokatu will be blessed and lunch held on board for skippers and engineers and their wives, some of whom have been parted for a long time.
Stephan Fridell was the delivery skipper and he and Rex Chapman will alternate as Tokatu’s skippers.
The state of the art technology will be immediately in evidence when Tokatu returns to Nelson to unload.
About 70 workers are needed to unload Rehua, hard and hazardous work in cold conditions.
Whereas with Tokatu the catch will already be sorted and palletised, unloaded by forklift and directly transferred into a container or the coolstore.
The vessel will undergo some final preparation before being put to work – catching hoki off the West Coast in a four-week voyage.
A fuller launch celebration is planned for later in the year.