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Monday 15 February 2010 | Published in Regional


Building codes will have to be adhered to when reconstruction of private homes begins on Aitutaki following tropical cyclone Pat.

“I think the lesson learnt is that if you are building your house, don’t take any shortcuts,” said minister Wilkie Rasmussen after visiting the island last week. “You have to build your house according to the codes and the standards. If it’s an old house, knock it down and build a new one.”

Rasmussen estimates that up to 90 percent of the buildings on Aitutaki suffered some form of damage during the cyclone.

Prime minister Jim Marurai noted that one of schools which had its roof replaced a few years ago, was not spared. However, Marurai said that he saw a reed roof at the Pacific Resort which appeared to be untouched.

In response to a question that there could have been some complacency by those living on Aitutaki towards the cyclone, Rasmussen said there may have been a lesson learnt.

“The warning system by the disaster management group has been pretty good and everybody knew that there was a cyclone coming, but they didn’t think that it was going to hit them that hard.”

Rasmussen said that money from the contingency fund would be sourced to assist with the cyclone response on Aitutaki.

“We have our means but we will be working in with our partners first to see what contributions they’ve got. We’ve already approved usage of our contingency fund to purchase immediate things like electrical cables and things like that.”

Rasmussen said that they are working closely with NZAid and will be holding further discussions as to the extra extent of their assistance.

After seeing the devastation on Aitutaki first hand, Marurai said one of his greatest fears is that those on the island might pack up and leave the country.