13 Jan 2004

Third New Zealand aid flight to cyclone-hit Niue

11:46 am on 13 January 2004

A third New Zealand Hercules flight has left for Niue, carrying essential supplies for the cyclone-devastated island and about 40 passengers.

Since Cyclone Heta tore through the Pacific region causing damage in the Samoas, Tonga and to a greater extent Niue, aid has been pouring in.

The foreign minister, Phil Goff, is also on the plane and he says he will try to get an overview to then report to cabinet.

"We'll also be meeting of course with the New Zealanders working up there, we'll be meeting with the New Zealand high comm ission and staff. We'll be having a formal meeting with the Niue cabinet and we'll also be having discussions with the private sector. The private sector has been particularly hard hit by the disaster of the cyclone."

Meanwhile, Niue's High Commissioner to New Zealand, Hima Takelesi, has dismissed suggestions that Niueans are deserting their country in the wake of cyclone Heta.

Mr Takelesi says there is a strong commitment amongst his people to rebuild the nation.

He says the Kiwi spirit has rubbed off on Niue.

Since when do kiwis give up easily? We might be kiwis a couple of thousand of miles away and brown-skinned but we still have that kiwi spirit. When we are down we don't just lie down. We get up, we pick ourselves up. It might be a bit painful but we take one step at a time.

Mr Takelesi says a team of workers is removing asbestos from the rubble and power has been restored to the island.