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ALOFI, Niue (Niue News, Feb. 19) - People of the Cook Islands have raised $127,612.53 for Niue reconstruction in the wake of Cyclone Heta, reports Pacific Affairs correspondent John Andrews.

Cooks' police minister Peri Vaevae Pare presented a check for that amount to Niue's high commissioner to New Zealand, Hima Takelesi, at a special ceremony in the Cook Islands Auckland consulate last Monday.

Norman George, a Cook Islands politician who chaired the appeal fund, said the entire Cooks community became involved in the fund raising effort.

Unable to have their live pigs transported to Rarotonga for the designated Niue relief day, some outer islands residents cooked them instead for local consumption then sent the resulting proceeds to the fund organizers.

Cook islanders raised a total of $105,000 that day.

With $10,000 the Cook Islands Government kicked in, the final total topped $127,000. Bearing in mind the Cooks' population of about 12,000, said Mr George, it had been estimated New Zealand would need to raise $400 million to match the donation on a per capita basis.

Mr Pare said the Cooks had also sent Niue two containers of clothing and food.

Mr Takelesi said Niue could have been in far more serious trouble if Cyclone Heta had struck at night. By hitting during daylight hours, Niueans were fortunate to be able to see what to hang on to, he said.

February 23, 2004

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