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ALOFI, Niue (Niu FM News, Jan. 29) – A large piece of indigenous rock taken from the Niue quarry and given to a naturopathy school in Ellerslie has caused a stir among the Niuean community both in New Zealand and back home.

[PIR editor’s note: Ellerslie is a suburb of Auckland, on New Zealand’s North Island.]

Reef Shipping has huge business interest in Niue but has come under fire for taking the rock without checking with locals, including those with ancestral claims to the land and the Makasesa.

Reef Shipping, which has business interests all over the Pacific, says the company didn't mean to commit the cultural faux-pas and that they were trying to do a nice thing for a school.

But locals told Niu FM they're offended the company just helped themselves to a large piece of rock from family land where quarrying was done for the Government.

Julie Talagi, whose family contacted Reef, says her parents were very upset the taonga of Niue was taken without their blessing and that no official protocols were observed.

Meanwhile, Group General Manager Kieron Gilpin from Reef Fishing, says they removed the rock quite innocently from a government quarry after getting the OK of the work crew. Kieron says it cost the company NZ$20,000 [US$14,000] to ship it, clean it and present it to the school.

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