14 Jul 2011

NZ foreign minister visits tsunami-hit Samoa coast

7:00 pm on 14 July 2011

New Zealand's foreign minister, Murray McCully, has concluded his visit to Samoa with a whirlwind tour of the tsunami-hit southern coast of Upolu.

Mr McCully is also visiting Tonga, Cook Islands and Niue as part of this week's Pacfic tour preceding the Pacific Islands Forum leaders' meeting in Auckland in September.

Annell Husband reports.

"Reconstruction work in the Aleipata district so badly affected by the 2009 tsunami is continuing but much of the devastation is no longer obvious. Official figures put the number of people affected by the disasters at 5274 and the number of families who received a portion of the four million US dollars of funding allocated for rebuilding of houses at 862. A November census is expected to reflect the number who've moved inland to higher ground but many have simply rebuilt using the foundations of their wrecked coastal homes. 'Built Back Better' is the official post-tsunami motto and a representative of the tourism tsunami recovery programme Tina Retzlaff says the tragedy provided resort operators a chance to lift the standard of their facilities. New Zealand has committed a total of 10 million US dollars to Samoa's tsunami and reconstruction effort and today Muray McCully announced an extra 200,000 US dollar grant to the village of Poutasi that will enable to complete a new community centre."