6 Sep 2004

Niue ponders options as population remains low

3:31 pm on 6 September 2004

Niue's High Commissioner to New Zealand warns the country may have to integrate with New Zealand if its population drops too low.

Hima Takelesi says it would be unrealistic to expect the current government and infrastructure systems to remain if the population fell to 500.

One estimate puts the population at about 1,500.

The former MP and head of the Niue Broadcasting Corporation says about 80 people have left the island since Cyclone Heta struck in January and Niuean residents in New Zealand appear reluctant to return.

"It would be unreasonable to expect us to continue with the same type kind of infrastructure that we have now. And I was referring there of course to the type of government that we have, the type of administration that we have."

Mr Takelesi says another option is for Niue to declare itself an independent state and seek international aid.

He believes debate about the future of the country is needed in New Zealand before it's too late.