New Zealand supports rebuild of cyclone-battered Tongan schools

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 4, 2014
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The New Zealand government on Wednesday announced a major investment to help rebuild schools and upgrade the national sports stadium in cyclone-battered Tonga.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who is leading a political delegation to the Pacific island nation, said his government would give 5 million NZ dollars (4.21 million U.S. dollars) to rebuild schools in the Ha'apai islands, which were hit by Cyclone Ian earlier this year.

The joint project with the Asian Development Bank and the Tongan Government, valued at 7.5 million NZ dollars (6.32 million U.S. dollars) would have a big impact on the lives of about 1,300 students affected by the cyclone, Key said in a statement from his office.

"Getting children back into a regular school is vital for their education, safety and emotional well-being," said Key.

In January, Cyclone Ian caused extensive damage to infrastructure, public utilities and services, agriculture and housing, as well as severely damaging schools in the Ha'apai island group.

The funding would be used to reconstruct classrooms and staff quarters, and replace school equipment across the island group by 2016.

"There is a significant Tongan population living in New Zealand, so it's important that we are able to help Tonga in times of need, " said Key.

New Zealand would also contribute around 2 million NZ dollars ( 1.68 million U.S. dollars) towards upgrading Tonga's national stadium in Nuku'alofa ahead of the 2019 Pacific Games.

"Teufaiva Stadium is already an important site for domestic rugby, athletics and community events and will be a great venue for the Pacific Games," said Key.

The first step in the upgrade work would be a New Zealand- funded feasibility study and design and technical support for the Tongan government.

In Tonga, Key also met with Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano and had high level discussions with other ministers. Endi

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