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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Mar. 23) – The mayor of Pukapuka in the northern Cook Islands says women and children won’t be evacuated to Aitutaki to the south as part of the island’s recovery after Cyclone Percy.

Pukapuka is still without a continuous supply of fresh water and more than 200 people are without their own home.

Officials on Pukapuka and nearby Nassau had been considering an offer from Aitutaki to accept refugees for three months.

But the mayor of Pukapuka, Tere Mataio, says they don’t want to be a burden on people in Aitutaki.

"I think as the mayor of Pukapuka, just to forget about going out, leaving our own island, because looking it through, we might look after ourself, by what help are coming out from other islands," he said.

In Rarotonga, a ship carrying heavy machinery, relief supplies and a water purification system is expected to leave for Pukapuka this afternoon.

March 24, 2005

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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