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NZ Responds to Cook Islands Cyclone Damage

NZ responds to Cook Islands cyclone damage

New Zealand telecommunications technicians will head to the Cook Islands tomorrow to help repair damage caused by Cyclone Olaf last night, and further assistance is likely in the next few days, says Foreign Minister Phil Goff. "Cyclone Olaf is the third cyclone to batter the Cook Islands in the last 10 days. Locals are making a huge effort to clean up but people are tired and resources are already stretched to the limit after Cyclone Meena and Cyclone Nancy, so the Cook Islands government has asked for our assistance," Mr Goff said.

"They have specifically requested technicians to help restore power lines and telecommunication services, which have both sustained compounding damage from the three cyclones, and heavy equipment to assist with the overall clean up of Rarotonga.

“A Telecom technical team has been mobilised and will travel to Rarotonga tomorrow. Assessments are being made now as to how we can best help to restore power supplies, and we should have a clear read on this tomorrow.

“If needed, Royal New Zealand Air Force planes can also be made available to assist with damage assessment flights or to transport equipment and supplies.

"New Zealand is working closely with our Pacific emergency relief partners France and Australia on the overall response, with our international aid agency, NZAID, taking the lead coordinating role – a reflection of New Zealand's special relationship with the Cook Islands. A team from French Polynesia, which is only an hour's flight from Rarotonga, is to be deployed to assess damage and assist with clearing the roads.”

Mr Goff spoke this morning to High Commissioner Kurt Meyer, who reported extensive damage around Rarotonga, especially to the western side of the island where the High Commission and many tourist resorts are located. The Edgewater and Crown Beach resorts have both sustained serious damage and will be close for at least a month.

“I understand that Air New Zealand will be running an additional flight to Rarotonga to bring out any affected tourists. Because of the damage to resorts, I would advise New Zealanders planning to travel to Rarotonga to check with their travel agents prior to departure," Mr Goff said.

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