24 May 2005

NZ soldiers head to Niue to help reconstruction after cyclone Heta

7:18 am on 24 May 2005

More than 100 New Zealand defence force staff are heading to Niue this morning to help rebuild parts of the island damaged by cyclone Heta.

The 122 engineers and medical personnel will spend the three-week mission working on projects identified by a team that has been on the island since Friday.

Lieutenant Commander Andrew Lincoln says tasks will include clearing the approach to the airport, finishing building an industrial park and providing relief for health workers.

He says the mission - funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and NZAID - is a good opportunity to train staff in a tropical environment and pass on skills to locals.

New Zealand provided additional funding of NZ$4.5 million dollars to Niue after Cyclone Heta struck in January 2004, destroying the main town of Alofi and devastating the rest of the island.