17 Jul 2014

Niue repair bill at least $50,000

8:30 am on 17 July 2014

The repair bill for damage allegedly caused by a drunk New Zealand Defence Force soldier in a hotel in Niue is estimated to be more than $50,000.

The lance corporal is accused of causing damage by spraying a fire extinguisher into several rooms of the Matavai Hotel on 2 July, where he was staying while preparing for a training exercise.

Sources on the atoll say the repair bill, which the Defence Force is considering contributing to, will be more than $50,000 given the rooms have been out of action for several weeks for repairs and repainting. It is not known whether insurance will cover the cost.

The lance corporal allegedly knocked on the doors of four rooms and, once they were opened, sprayed a fire extinguisher, frightening the people inside.

Radio New Zealand has since confirmed that some of the guests involved were auditors from Audit New Zealand, staying at the Matavai Hotel while doing an audit of the Niue government.

Niue police chief Tony Edwards told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the Niuean police had handed the investigation to the New Zealand Defence Force and the two organisations are cooperating.

He said he would wait until the soldier had been through a military court to see if Niue should take any legal action.