3 Jun 2008

NZ Prime Minister rules out additional funding to Niue for asbestos disposal

9:07 pm on 3 June 2008

New Zealand's Prime Minister says her government will not allocate any more funds to Niue for the dispoal of sheets of asbestos roofing

After devastating cyclones in 1959 and 1960, most of the houses on Niue were built with asbestos.

However Niue government is now looking for help to dispose of its sheets of asbestos roofing.

Much of the roofing was damaged during Cyclone Heta four years ago, leaving the population vulnerable to inhaling the fibres - which can cause lung cancer.

Helen Clark has ruled out providing additinoal assistance to Niue to deal with it.

"We have expected the Niue government to prioritise that within the susbstantial allocation it gets from New Zealand, and I stress it is a susbstantial allocation for what is now a very small population that has elected to stay on Niue."

Over the past three years New Zealand has provided Niue with more than 39 million US dollars in aid.

Presently it is providing nearly forty percent of the recurrent budget and an additional six and a half million US dollars for capital development and other projects as well as technical support.

As well there have been substantial one-off contributions, such as for the rebuilding following Cyclone Heta, contributions to the Niue Trust Fund and backing for the hosting of the 2008 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting.