Niue government begins renovating abandoned homes
The Niue government has begun renovating derelict houses as part of plans to create more accommodation for an expected growth in visitor numbers.
The Niue government has begun renovating three abandoned houses as part of plans to create more accommodation for an expected growth in visitor numbers.
About two years ago, the government went to court in an attempt to have dozens of derelict houses demolished or renovated.
But the court told it that the owners need to be found first to get their approval.
Beverley Tse has more:
As you drive around Niue, it is hard to miss what has been described as an eyesore and health risk - dilapidated structures with missing roofs, windows and doors, riddled with overgrown vegetation and vermin. The New Zealand High Commissioner to Niue, Mark Blumsky, says many of the home owners still have treasured memories of their properties and are finding it hard to let them go.
MARK BLUMSKY: What they don't understand is that since they left 30 years ago, there's been some cyclones and the houses have slowly fallen apart and the houses look nothing like what they have in their memory of their houses.
Some people say the unkempt houses have lain idle for far too long. A Niue High school student, JinNam Hopotoa, suggests the government turn them into accommodation for expatriates who are planning to move back.
JIMNAM HOPOTOA: So when citizens return, they would feel happy and they will know, they have a fair idea that they've got somewhere to live when they come back. Of course they can turn to hotels and everything but a lot of them would like to have more of a home lifestyle, you know. So that will be one of the things that will really help the Niueans come back.
But the government has encountered challenges. Many of the properties were built on untitled land and the owners feared they would lose everything until the government decided to reserve the foundations and only knock down the walls. The Niue High Commissioner to New Zealand, O'Love Jacobsen, says there have also been disagreements between the owners who have shifted abroad and their caretakers.
O'LOVE JACOBSEN: Sometimes we haven't got the families to consent on both ends so that we can then go ahead with it. And times they haven't been able to connect up very well with those that look after their houses in Niue to pull it down.
The government has been looking into ways to create more beds for tourists as it prepares for Air New Zealand to announce an additional weekly flight to the island on top of the existing weekly plane between Auckland and Niue. The Premier of Niue Toke Talagi says the houses will not only cater for visitors but also those wanting to repatriate from abroad.
TOKE TALAGI: We are renovating those houses at the present moment. We've already picked about three where the ownership is clear. And we're going to renovate them and use them for tourist accommodation as well as accommodation for Niueans wishing to return and live in the villages, or stay in the villages.
Toke Talagi says he hopes the three renovations now underway will be complete by June.
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