26 Oct 2006

Cook Islands nuclear test victim told by New Zealand to take issue up with the Cooks government

7:02 pm on 26 October 2006

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says a Cook Islander's claim over British nuclear bomb testing in the 1950s should be taken up with the Cook Islands Government.

The Cook Islands Herald says the claim relates to illnesses resulting from the testing on Christmas Island near the northern Cook Islands.

The newspaper says a Rarotongan resident, Wayne Meyer, wrote to Mr Peters detailing the illnesses suffered by his wife, Tau, following the tests in 1957.

Mrs Meyer was on Rakahanga, which is several hundred kilometres from Christmas Island, at the time of the tests.

Mr Meyer says she was one of several islanders affected by the tests.

He says prior to the test Royal Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy vessels visited the island and the people were warned about the tests and told not to drink water from wells and roof tanks, or to eat fish and crops.

Mr Meyer says the test had a dramatic impact on the island with a bright flash, while the ground shook, and the fish in the lagoon died.