NZ to send civil servants to boost Niue’s public sector

New Zealand is set to send civil servants to Niue on short-term trips to help bolster its public sector.

It was announced following a bilateral meeting between New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Premier Dalton Tagelagi in Niue.

The public sector support for the government of Niue would be worth $13 million over the next five years, Peters said.

Specialists would help the civil service to build its capacity.

“It’s an understanding that small populations – even New Zealand is in the same boat sometimes – have a potential shortage [of civil servants].”

Niue High School welcomes deputy prime minister Winston Peters and his delegation.

Peters is in Niue, departing today, on his last Pacific stop after visiting the Solomon Islands and Nauru.

It is the second high-level delegation visit from New Zealand to the realm country, after Prime Minister Christopher Luxon travelled there a month ago to announce a $20.5 million renewable energy project in Niue.

Niue has struggled with ongoing power cuts for years. Part of the island was without power on the night the political delegation arrived.

Niue minister of finance and infrastructure Crossley Tatui and Winston Peters turn the soil in the renewable energy ground-breaking ceremony.

Peters had a ground-breaking ceremony for Luxon’s renewable energy project and it is hoped this will solve the outages that have plagued the island for years.

Department of Utilities director Clinton Chapman said the goal was for the project – which covers an area the equivalent of 56 Olympic sized swimming pools – to be completed by December 2025.

“We want to increase renewable energy input to 80 percent. The best we’ve got to is 38 percent, [which] was in November last year.”

That figure had since dropped because lightning strikes took out the controls in the battery system, he said.

When the project was completed, it was expected there would be no more power cuts, Chapman said.

Department of Utilities director Clinton Chapman says the goal is for Niue to be running off 80 percent solar by December 2025.

The previous New Zealand government and the United Nations Development Programme had already allocated millions towards solar before Luxon’s announcement.

Tagelagi said that money had gone towards an initial attempt that “hasn’t quite worked”, calling it a “design phase”.

New Zealand had realised the situation Niue was in and now the island was in “second phase”, he said.

Niue has a population of around 1600 and, like other Pacific nations, has been struggling to keep hold of its people.

Minister of education Sonya Talagi says the pay in Niue is too low to be able to compete with New Zealand.

During a visit to Niue High School, which Peters’ delegation also attended, minister of education Sonya Talagi said remuneration rates were too low locally to compete with New Zealand.

The starting salary for a nurse was about half that in New Zealand, she said.

“We are happy for those in New Zealand who are succeeding, who are able to build their lives.

“But at the same time, we need people to come back to Niue to realise and appreciate the value of Niue and to help build it with us.”

New Zealand could help with “sustainable salary strategies” by increasing wages, she said.

Peters said he wanted to improve Niue’s self-reliance and resilience, seeing tourism as an obvious area for improvement.

Niue has a deficit of more than NZ$15 million hanging over the government.

Tagelagi said he was not concerned.

“Every country in the world is in deficit – that’s not an issue for me.”

In Niue, the environment came first, and the economy later, he said.

“You can’t just go all about the economy and neglect the environment.

“You can be greedy just thinking about finance, but sometimes when you do that and don’t take care of the oceans, the future is blank for the future generations.

“You look after the environment first and the economy will follow, there’s plenty of people that love to go to places where the environment is intact and where people care for the environment and the oceans. That’s what exactly what we’re doing.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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