Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Niueans To Go Without Electricity For Three Weeks

Niueans To Go Without Electricity For Three Weeks

By John Andrews, Pacific Affairs Correspondent

Niueans may have to live rough on their tiny South Pacific island for up to three weeks while waiting for a new power generator.

The destruction this week of the island’s main source of electricity has caused chaos, forcing school classrooms to close and bringing government services to a virtual standstill.

Niue’s dejected Premier, Young Vivian.

Without power to reticulate water, the island’s population of around 1300 have to ration water supplies, cook with gas and dine by candlelight.

As the Niue government pleads for New Zealand to urgently provide a new generator, their disaster management officials are trying to ensure the island can cope in survival mode.

They’re hoping the New Zealand Air Force can provide a Hercules aircraft to transport a generator and associated equipment to the island.

Because of worries about a reliable runway lighting system at Niue’s Hanan International Airport, Niue has asked Air New Zealand to consider a daylight flight from Auckland to Niue instead of the normal late night 737 service it normally runs on Fridays.

The generator’s destruction while he was out of the country is just the latest headache for Niue’s dejected Premier, Young Vivian.

Since returning to Auckland from a conference of Pacific Island leaders in Japan on Monday, he’s been virtually sleepless while contemplating how fellow countrymen are coping with his island’s latest crisis and considering options.

Ironically he was in Auckland arranging for his wife’s funeral when Cyclone Heta devastated his island homeland back in January, 2004.

Mr Vivian estimates a new generator will cost in the range of $500,000, money his cash-strapped government does not have.

He’s not sure how the fire started but wonders if the departure to Australia of Niue’s only qualified electrician two weeks ago may have been a factor.

His eyes widening, he described how the recruitment of a stand-in electrician for only two months would cost Niue $39,000.

Mr Vivian said: “This is an emergency. It cannot go on very long. If we have no water, I reckon a week and we will have to consider going back to basics.

“I think it is grovelling time again. Do you think I like grovelling? It is depressing for people to have to do that. No one likes to be like that.

“I feel very frustrated about the whole thing because our future is not clear. We are dependent on things beyond my control. I’m at the mercy of those people who assist us.

“We begin to get it right [post Cyclone Heta] and we get hard hit again. It’s not the last straw. There’s hope. The lifestyle in Niue is better than in New Zealand,” he said as he agonised at the thought thousands of Niueans had left their homeland --- about 20,000 live in New Zealand --- for what they regarded as a higher standard of living.

Niue, he said, had small emergency generators for its airport, new hospital, telecommunications and broadcasting station but there was no way they can cater for the needs of 600 households.

Because of the importance of the airport runway lights and Niue’s present reliance on emergency power, he hoped Air New Zealand would be able reschedule the next 737 flight to daylight hours.

“We do not want Air New Zealand to take risks,” he said.

An irony in the power calamity was the fact that the myriad of 400 to 800-gallon water tanks Niue householders used to own were deliberately destroyed about 15 years ago on the advice of foreign health officials worried the structures would harbour dengue fever-bearing mosquitos.

Mr Vivian said officials in Niue were formulating written submissions to the New Zealand on how best the power crisis could be overcome.

Sisilia Talagi, Niue's high commissioner to New Zealand, said she received several inquiries from Niue-bound tourists wanting to know if they should go ahead with their holiday plans. She told them they would have to "rough it" if they flew to the island in the next week or so.


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news