Vava’u Islands – VERA

Vava’u Emergency Response Association (VERA)

VHF 16 and VHF 26 VERA or Vavau Marine
Phone: +676 8728839 or +676 7512347 / +676 8812347

This is a volunteer organisation of expats and Tongans that provide a first response for Emergencies in our area. Such as:

  • marine emergencies – yacht/boat MayDay and Pan Pan
  • VHF support
  • diving and other water based accidents
  • Fire and land based rescues
  • medical assistance and coordination
  • coordinate with Rescue Control Centre (RCC) in Wellington 24-hour emergency numbers New Zealand (toll free): 0508 472 269 (0508 4 RCCNZ) Call from outside of New Zealand: +64 4 577 8030

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is responsible for coordinating:

All major maritime and aviation search and rescue SAROPs within New Zealand’s search and rescue region A RCCNZ search and rescue response may start with a telephone call, a radio message, a distress beacon alert, an email or a request from the New Zealand Police.

As the information comes in, the search and rescue officers at RCCNZ will gather and sort the information, analyse the incident and then plan the response.

The search and rescue officers determine the area to be searched and then plan the search strategy. If necessary they will consult with specialist aviation, defence force, marine, Police and land search and rescue advisors. They will then task the aircraft, helicopters, ships, Coastguard or other groups and agencies to carry out the plan.

With the search and rescue underway, RCCNZ’s search and rescue officers:

  • monitor the progress
  • update the plans as new information comes to hand and manage all the activities to get the best possible result.
  • A search and rescue incident ends only when all the people in distress have been accounted for and all the searchers have also returned safely.

Maritime New Zealand Forms and Information for download and printing

Report commercial accident or incident form
Report recreational accident or incident form
Reporting incidents and Serious Harm form
Mayday Procedure card
What RCC Does

Local Boat Register – for either volunteering your vessel for SAR’s or to assist us with Rescuing you if required! Please supply the information back to who will retain the information for RCC in NZ.

Helpful information for the local boat register would includes:

Name of Boat
MV or SY
Owners Names
Contact Details
Boat details
Fuel/ Range/ Speed
Fuel litre
Range Naut. Miles
Speed Min/Max
Communications – make and monitoring channels.
VHF Y/N Channels
HF Y/N Frequency
SAT Phone Y/N Number
EPIRB Type/Serial


VERA Contact Details

VERA Rescue Coordinators
Responsible for managing incidents and coordinating resources as required.

Baker Harding – ex US Army Captain Communications. yachtie and owner of Vavau Marine Guide, VERA Rescue Coordinator VHF 16 / 26 “Litenup” +676 8728839

Greg Just – Ex IT Manager, yachtie, NZ Coastguard Volunteer, PADI Divemaster, VERA Rescue Coordinator VHF 16 /26 “Tropicana” +676 7512347 +676 71322 +676 8812347

Lisa Molloy – Yachtie, former NZ Paramedic, PADI Advanced Diver, VERA Rescue Coordinator +676 7512870 +676 8761942

VERA Dive and Water Rescue Coordinators
Responsible for coordinating water resources as required to effect a rescue or recovery.

Karen Stone – PADI Master Scuba Instructor, Marine Medical Specialist VHF 16 /26 “VERA “+676 7776616

Paul Stone – PADI Master Scuba Dive Instructor, Marine Engineering specialist +676 7776616

VERA Engineering Coordinator
Responsible for coordinating engineering resources as required to effect a rescue or recovery.

Paul Stone – PADI Master Scuba Dive Instructor, Marine Engineering specialist +676 7776616

VERA Fire and Land Rescue Coordinator
Responsible for coordinating Fire and Land rescue resources as required to effect a rescue or recovery.

Alistair Coldrick ex UK Leading Hand Fire Service, PADI Advanced Diver VHF 26 “Dolphin Dive” +676 59623 or +676 70292

Lisa Molloy – Yachtie, former NZ Paramedic, PADI Advanced Diver, VERA Rescue Coordinator VHF 16 /26 +676 7512870 +676 8761942


History of Assistance in Vava’u



  • Expat Divers search for Chinese man who drowned after tipping over in his kayak
  • Paradise Hotel Fire – limiting fire to restaurant and admin block
  • Bounty Bar and other building Fires – limiting fire to immediate bock only.
  • Fuel tank fall and person crushed at Tonga Bobs bar




  • August 2009 MV Escapade and 8 volunteer locals and yachties on site search for survivors of the MV Princess Ashika Sinking
  • August MV Escapade and crew from MV Proteus tows SY De mara (no steering) back to town 25miles
  • September 2009 MV Escapade delivers yachtie with severely lacerated finger to SV Solace for surgery by a doctor from SV Kayak




  • AIS used to coordinate multiple vessels with AIS searching and locate Tongan fishing vessel. Vessel outboard broken.
  • German SY with no steering calls PAN PAN. AIS used to locate game fishing vessel who has broken VHF on board. MV requested to tow vessel into Harbour.




  • SY Corrina activates EPIRB 50nm north of Vava’u. Unable to assist due to weather and distance, MV Anatolia Pacific requested by RCC NZ to divert and attempt Tow. Unable to Tow and maintain steerage, vessel left. Owner brought in to Vava’u by MV. Vessel located on reef in Fiji 2 weeks later.