19 Mar 2008

New Zealand astonished at Niue minister's remarks

4:59 pm on 19 March 2008

The New Zealand Government says remarks from the Niue Finance Minister that it had refused to provided cash assistance to help pay for the Pacific Islands Forum summit in August, are extraordinary.

Niue's Fisa Pihigia is presently in New Zealand seeking financial help for the event, including asking the Niuean community in Auckland and Wellington to assist.

He says he is very angry that New Zealand won't meet a request for 900,000 US dollars in cash, but the New Zealand Foreign minister Winston Peters says the comment is not helpful.

He says the principal decision to ensure the summit on Niue is viable, has been made.

"The truth is that it will not be easy but it can be done and we have made the critical decision to ensure that it can be done and to help them. So I say again this comment is not helpful nor is it really central to the core of the question of costs."

Mr Peters says it is early days in terms of the costings and he is not yet able to say what New Zealand's total contribution to the summit will be.