23 Mar 2005

New Zealand checks Niue hospital rebuilding costs

3:30 pm on 23 March 2005

New Zealand officials are checking reports a new hospital it's funding for Niue will cost nearly 10 percent more than originally announced.

Building work is yet to start to replace the hospital knocked down by Cyclone Heta more than a year ago.

The director of the Pacific group at New Zealand's Agency for International Development, Craig Hawke, says his colleagues are talking to the Niuean government about whether six million NZ dollars is the final figure.

"Niue needs to work out any changes to the costs are required, and then the next step would be that Niue, if it wanted New Zealand to be involved in meeting some of those costs, would enter into discussions with them and make a formal request."

The Opposition in Niue says there may be more cost overruns.

Niue's premier has been praised for securing aid from New Zealand but next month faces a general election.