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NORTHERN COOKS TRAVELERS RETURN HOME Government spent $287,000 transporting 52 residents

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Oct. 28, 2009) – All but a few Te Maeva Nui participants from Rakahanga and Penrhyn have returned back home.

Cultural development secretary Sonny Williams says that those from Manihiki and Pukapuka have returned by Air Rarotonga, and most from Penrhyn were being flown back last week.

Williams says that final cost for the flights would be worked out once all the participants are returned, as return seats to Rarotonga have been offered to paying passengers.

At the beginning of the month, Williams estimated that the costs to fly participants back home – after staying on for the Pacific Mini Games -- would be in the vicinity of NZ$400,000 [US$2887,000]

. The total costs, he adds, will be contained in a final report which will be furnished to the minister of cultural development, Robert Wigmore, in due time.

The ministry then paid an extra $100,000 for five flights to bring 52 people down from Pukapuka to Rarotonga. Those in the Pukapuka tere party refused to board the government-chartered ferry as it could not take its full complement due to extra people getting on board at Penrhyn and Manihiki.

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