The tiny vessel had been adrift for 50 days.

The boys set off on 5th October 2010 in their aluminium dinghy from their home island of Atafu to one nearby and it is understood that the outboard motor on their boat may have broken down at sea.

Some 50 days later they were spotted by the trawler the San Nikuna with three people aboard waving frantically. The teens and their boat were hauled aboard the fishing trawler, which was on its way to Fiji on Friday where it would deliver the trio into medical care.

Certainly the rescue came not a moment too soon as the boys had only days to survive.

The boys come from the atoll of Atafu, one of three that comprises the tiny Tokelau island group where 1500 people live.

Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo, picture-perfect South Pacific islets, lie 500 kilometres north of Samoa, surrounded by 128 mostly uninhabited coconut palm-covered islets.