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Pacific region rallies to help Niue

Pacific region rallies to help Niue

New Zealanders, regional governments and overseas-based Niueans have rallied to provide swift and substantial relief to the cyclone-ravaged island of Niue, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

“The immediate needs for food, drinking water and medical supplies on the island are being met thanks to relief flights from New Zealand, Australia and France,” Mr Goff said. “The next challenge will be preparing an assistance package that meets Niue’s longer-terms needs.

“The Niuean community and other New Zealanders have been generous in coming forward with donations and offers of assistance with specialist skills.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is recording details of those offering their skills for the rebuilding process, so we can get back to people once the island’s needs are properly assessed.

“The first RNZAF relief flight on Wednesday included an assessment team whom I plan to meet with in Auckland tomorrow after the aircraft returns. I am advised that power and water have been restored, though there are questions around water quality. Two major issues will be restoring medical and telecommunications services following destruction of the island’s hospital and its satellite dish.

“The returning flight is expected to carry around 15 Niueans who are either pregnant or requiring medical treatment for light to moderate injuries. Our second relief flight, which landed in Niue early this afternoon, included tradespersons with the expertise to get services up and running and to assess longer-term equipment needs.

“Ten volunteers including telecommunications specialists, linesmen, a plumber and a doctor will start work immediately to help Niueans rebuild and get their lives back to normal.

“We are grateful for offers for help from Australia and France, our partners in the FRANZ agreement for Pacific disaster relief. A French Polynesian flight is expected to fly from Noumea to Niue on Sunday with food and water, and an Australian flight today will bring in a medical team.

“A Reef Shipping vessel due to leave Auckland tomorrow will take heavy equipment including a grader, a front-end loader and two dump trucks. Another Reef Shipping vessel will sail from Rarotonga with water and containers to store fuel, necessary because of damage to fuel storage tanks on the island.

“Niue has suffered devastating damage, and rebuilding will take considerable time, effort and expense. The response so far at government and community level to tackle the many problems that lie ahead has been encouraging,” Mr Goff said.


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