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ALOFI, Niue (February 13 2002 – Niue Economic Review)---Two New Zealand consultants carrying out detailed research into Niue's future are at work on the island this week.

Stewart Hadfield and Nina Perez of Lincoln University, Christchurch will spend three weeks on Niue "getting alongside" residents to try and find what sort of common vision Niueans have for maintaining a living viable community on the 265 square kilometer (106 square mile) raised coral atoll 1,800 kilometers (1,80 miles) north of New Zealand.

The island has been economically depressed for many years and suffers from continual migration of residents to New Zealand and Australia.

In 1974, when Niue attained self-government in free association with NZ, the islanders retained NZ citizenship. The population has dropped in 27 years from 3,500 to 1,700. Despite many efforts by successive Niue Government's there has been reluctance by NZ resident Niueans to return home.

Both Ms. Perez and Mr. Hadfield say they want to establish the aspirations of locals and are hoping those interviewed will "speak from the heart."

The two say they won't be sitting down on the job conducting the traditional one-on-one interviews. "We'll be out in the villages and plantations alongside those in everyday situations," they told TV Niue.

After research on Niue the consultants will meet with Niueans living in the main centers of New Zealand to ascertain how they see the future of their homeland.

A report is expected to be completed by the end of March.

For additional reports from the Niue Economic Review, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Magazines/Journals/Niue Economic Review.

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