23 Feb 2005

New Zealand steps up clean-up role in cyclone-affected Cook Islands

9:01 pm on 23 February 2005

New Zealand is stepping up its help for the Cook Islands' cyclone clean-up and will be sending heavy equipment on a Royal New Zealand Airforce C130 Hercules.

The Aid Minister, Marian Hobbs, says the heavy equipment to be sent to the Cooks includes cherry pickers and heavy trucks and will arrive in Rarotonga on Monday.

Chainsaws and other light equipment needed for the clean-up have already been sent.

Twenty New Zealanders of Cook Island descent have also just arrived in Rarotonga, as volunteers, to help with the clean-up.

Telecommunications experts from Telecom New Zealand and Vector left early this week to help restore services, and Airways New Zealand staff are busy replacing landing aids.

Ms Hobbs says New Zealand is contributing up to 75 thousand dollars to the clean-up from the cyclones that have struck the Cooks over recent weeks.