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New Zealand helps cyclone-battered Cooks

23 February 2005

New Zealand helps cyclone-battered Cooks

New Zealand is continuing to arrange for resources to assist the Cook Islands recover from damage caused by three cyclones in the last two weeks, Aid Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

"New Zealand received a request to assist on Saturday morning and NZAID, our international aid agency, has since been coordinating the FRANZ (France, Australia and New Zealand) response," Marian Hobbs said.

"It is important to note that the we are not responding to an emergency or humanitarian disaster, but are assisting the Cook Islands with the clean-up process.

"Cyclone Olaf hit the main island of Rarotonga particularly hard on Friday evening and left areas of the island without power, water and telecommunication services. NZAID approached Telecom NZ and Vector Networks to source telecommunication technicians and linesmen, who are now in Rarotonga to assist with the restoration of services. Personnel and equipment to replace the landing aids at the airport is being supplied through Airways NZ.

"Chainsaws and other lighter equipment needed for clean-up has been transported to Rarotonga on commercial flights.

"Other heavy equipment, such as cherry-pickers and heavy trucks, is also needed. Due to size of the items and the need to get the equipment to the Cooks in a timely manner, the consignment will be transported on a RNZAF C-130 Hercules. The flight is scheduled to arrive in Rarotonga on Monday.

"In a small place like the Cook Islands, manpower in these situations is often a problem. The Cook Islands Government requested 20 personnel to assist with the clean up. This request was passed to the Cooks Islands High Commission in New Zealand who quickly brought together 20 New Zealanders of Cook Island descent. These volunteers arrived in Rarotonga early this morning.

"I would like to extend my thanks to the individuals who have volunteered to assist. I am sure the local knowledge they possess and the fact that the group includes, plumbers, electricians and labourers will be much appreciated by those affected by the Cyclones."

New Zealand is contributing up to $750,000 to the Cook Island’s cyclone.

ENDS

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