4 Oct 2011

New Zealand sends aid to Tuvalu after state of emergency declared

5:39 am on 4 October 2011

The New Zealand foreign minister says a warning from Tuvalu that current water shortages could become serious quickly prompted the Defence Force to dispatch a Hercules.

The is delivering two desalination units, water containers and personnel after the island nation last week declared a state of emergency due to severe water shortages.

The minister, Murray McCully, says a decision was made at the weekend to send the Hercules, after a message was received that some places were down to two days of water.

"The team obviously is being led by the High Commissioner Gareth Smith, who will be spending some time obviously conducting meetings with members of the government there. But most importantly, he'll be viewing with the donors meetings in which there'll be an attempt to get a joint assessment of how critical the problem is. Whether the equipment that's on the ground at the moment is capable of solving the problem."

Murray McCully says New Zealand is also keeping an eye on other island nations which are facing water shortages, including Tokelau.