29 Feb 2012

Millions of NZ aid dollars to the Pacific being spent on Air NZ flights

7:15 am on 29 February 2012

A professor in development studies says he's concerned New Zealand aid money is being directed towards the private sector.

The Cook Islands has spent half the three million aid dollars it receives for tourism annually, on an underwrite arrangement with Air New Zealand that began in 2010.

A temporary underwrite arrangement between the Samoan and Tongan Governments and Air New Zealand was cancelled after is was deemed to no longer be economic.

Three-point-eight million aid dollars was spent on that arrangement between 2009 and 2011.

The director of Victoria University's Development Studies programme, John Overton, says aid development could be better spent.

"I'm definitely uneasy about New Zealand Aid money being used to subsidize in effect the commercial operations of a New Zealand company in this case Air New Zealand, which would seem to be counter to any of the stated objectives of the New Zealand Aid programme either now or especially in the past."