$5.5 million for reconstruction in Cook Islands
Foreign Minister Murray McCully today announced a $5.5 million reconstruction package for Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, in the wake of Cyclone Pat.
"Cyclone Pat caused serious devastation on Aitutaki. Around 80 percent of the houses on the island were affected in some way, and 72 were completely destroyed," Mr McCully said.
"Tourism on Aitutaki is a vital income source for the Cook Islands. Our assistance will help get things back to 'business as usual' as quickly as possible, and ensure the economy does not suffer long-term effects.
"New Zealand has already provided $350,000 for emergency relief efforts, while a RNZAF C-130 Hercules and engineering team supported local efforts in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone.
"We are now addressing the longer-term reconstruction needs through a substantial contribution to the Cook Islands Government's reconstruction plan."
"Support will be provided for the removal of debris and the restoration of essential public infrastructure, including the hospital, schools, and water supply.
"Funding will be made available through a grant scheme for the purchase of construction materials to repair damaged homes. There will also be significant support for the rebuilding of destroyed houses. The details of this support are currently being finalised with the Cook Islands Government and will be announced next week.
"The reconstruction package will also meet the cost of improving cyclone shelters and early warning systems to ensure the Aitutaki community is better prepared in the future," Mr McCully said.
The funding announced today will come from the joint New Zealand and Australian development assistance programme for the Cook Islands.