1 Mar 2016

Fiji: 'Like an endless sea of aeroplane crashes'

8:21 pm on 1 March 2016

The situation in cyclone-ravaged Fiji is grim and reconstruction work will take a long time, says Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

Mr McCully has just returned from Fiji, where he inspected the damage left by Cyclone Winston and discussed how New Zealand can support recovery efforts.

The government is to boost its aid package by $1.5 million, with the funds helping to repair the badly damaged electricity grid.

Watch RNZI journalist Alex Perrottet's report from the island of Vanua Balavu here:

Mr McCully said Fiji was still trying to assess the extent of the damage.

"You're talking roofs taken off houses completely in some places where there is just a platform left of a house - lots of places like that. So it's like flying over an endless sea of aeroplane crashes."

He said Fiji was starting to move into the recovery phase, restoring electricity, water and transport.

New Zealand's relationship with Fiji has been tested in the past over post coup sanctions and lately over New Zealand's climate change policies.

But Mr McCully said cooperation during disasters happened even during difficult times and happened naturally between neighbours.

"We're going to have disagreements from time to time but when there is an urgent need for humanitarian support everybody in this neighbourhood understands that you just knuckle down and deal with those needs. And that's what we've tried to do and I know that's very much appreciated and everyone I met in Fiji told me that."