11 Feb 2004

New Zealand's foreign minister says the country has been generous to Niue

7:58 am on 11 February 2004

New Zealand's foreign affairs minister, Phil Goff, has criticised a Niuean opposition politician after he complained about the level of aid provided following Cyclone Heta.

Mr Goff says Terry Coe's comments are ungracious and ill-informed when New Zealand contributed three and a half million U.S. dollars to Niue.

Mr Coe had complained that French Polynesia had provided money, construction materials and people to build houses while New Zealand's effort wasn't enough.

Mr Goff says French Polynesia has been generous but so has New Zealand.

And, he says he went to Niue with a plane load of people, many of them Niuean New Zealanders who volunteered their time as skilled tradesmen to help with the recovery.

"IN: I went up with a group of people from New Zealand government departments, including Occupational Safety and Health, who immediately moved in and started dealing with the asbestos problem. I know that the New Zealand police are up there, helping. I know that Telecom has been helping, I know that ordinary New Zealanders have been hugely generous."

Mr Goff says the money New Zealand gave to Niue is allocated by a recovery committee run by Niuean MPs.