2 Nov 2009

Residents of Niuatoputapu tell Tonga Prime Minister they're not sure about relocating inland

8:19 pm on 2 November 2009

The Tonga Prime Minister, members of his Cabinet and the High Commissioners of Australia and New Zealand have been told relocating homes on disaster hit Niuatoputapu will be difficult.

Nine people were killed, and much of three villages wrecked, when the earthquake and tsunami hit the island on the 30th of September.

Dr Feleti Sevele led the delegation at the weekend to review the status of the island's makeshift medical centre and hospital, its wharf, airport runway and terminal, and the main roads.

They also visited the island's three villages, Hihifo, Vaipoa and Falehau, and some of the temporary camps that the villagers' had established in the hills.

A public meeting was held with the Prime Minister's party, primarily to discuss the proposal for the relocation of homes to higher ground.

The Government is already preparing to relocate its services but moving private homes will be more difficult.

In a statement the Prime Minister's Office says this is because many the residents did not own the houses they occupied, while others are reluctant to vacate ancestral homes in which numerous generations have lived.

The meeting agreed public discussion on the proposal will continue.