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Habitat offers help for Aitutaki rebuild

Thursday 4 March 2010 | Published in Regional


Habitat for Humanity New Zealand is poised to help the Cook Islands recover from the devastating onslaught of Cyclone Pat.

The organisation is hoping to see NZ and Cook Islands volunteers working together on Aitutaki’s housing reconstruction programme.

Yesterday minister responsible for the recovery plan for Aitutaki, Wilkie Rasmussen, said the offer of assistance would be welcomed as long as ‘they work with our system’.

Rasmussen said he was aware that Habitat officials were coming back for a second visit next week and he had yet to meet them. The organisation’s Samoa project manager, Lou Maea, recently visited Aitutaki, where he met with government officials and other disaster response agencies. He describes their response as very enthusiastic, after hearing of Habitat’s work in Samoa.

In a Habitat press release issued yesterday, it says the programme for the Cooks will be designed along similar lines to Habitat New Zealand’s current project in tsunami-ravaged Samoa.

Next week, Habitat New Zealand’s CEO Pete North is also to meet with government, to further develop plans for the recovery effort.

Meanwhile, Habitat has already launched an appeal to raise $300,000 for facilitating its Cook Islands rebuilding programme.

“With the people of Aitutaki struggling to come to terms with their loss and with many of them facing an indeterminate time in emergency shelter, Habitat for Humanity New Zealand believes it simply must respond. Moreover, given our experience in building fales for many Samoans left homeless by last year’s tsunami, we are particularly well placed to help out on Aitutaki,” said North.

“The cyclone damage on Aitutaki may not seem huge when compared to the horrendous results of the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, to which Habitat for Humanity International is also mounting a response. However, the Cook Islands is a very close Pacific neighbour, and Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens. So we can’t let them down.”

“We know we have the ability to respond. But we still need help from generous New Zealanders to ensure that we have the financial means to assist our neighbours rebuild their homes and lives,” he added.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-denominational Christian not-for-profit organisation that helps more than 60,000 families across the globe into homes every year.

Go to to find out more about the Habitat assistance for the Cook Islands.