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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Nov. 2) – New Zealand’s Opposition National Party has criticized a newly-announced US$14 million aid package for Niue.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced the aid when she visited Niue at the weekend.

The new subsidy is to be spread over five years, and is designed to ensure the Pacific Island’s political, economic and cultural survival.

Niue, an independent nation with close ties to New Zealand, has been struggling in the aftermath of a devastating cyclone that flattened much of the island and caused some residents to leave.

National’s foreign affairs spokesman, Lockwood Smith, said it meant New Zealand taxpayers would subsidize each of the 1,300 people living on Niue to the tune of about US$6,500 a year.

He told the Herald newspaper that the move was nothing more than an election ploy by the Prime Minister to buy the votes of the 20,000 Niueans living in New Zealand.

Mr Smith said the country already receives US$5.5 million a year from New Zealand and the pledge to rebuild the hospital will come on top of that.

November 3, 2004

Radio New Zealand International:

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