NEW ZEALAND TO TAKE MORE FROM 'SINKING' TUVALU ATOLLS
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (July 20, 2001 – New Zealand Herald/PINA Nius Online)---Prime Minister Helen Clark has indicated that New Zealand will take more people from Tuvalu if rising sea levels continue to hit the Polynesian nation’s atolls, the New Zealand Herald reported.
A spokesman said Ms. Clark is "very sensitive" to Tuvalu's problems. These relate to living standards and population pressures, as well as the effects of climate change, the spokesman said.
About 5,000 people from the small island nation are already living in New Zealand, the New Zealand Herald said.
The New Zealand reaction contrasts with that of Australia, which says the islanders would not be entitled to any special immigration treatment.
The Tuvalu government last year appealed to Australia and New Zealand authorities to provide permanent homes for at least 3,000 people. It came amidst increasing worries about rising sea levels caused by global warming.
The New Zealand Herald said Prime Minister Clark has met regularly with Tuvalu leaders.
Tuvalu's population of between 10,000 and 11,000 people share a total land area of only 26 square kilometers (10.4 square miles), spread across nine low-lying coral atolls.
As well as coastal erosion the islanders are already feeling the effects of increased soil salinity, making it harder to grow food.
Tuvalu also is considering buying land in neighboring nations, the New Zealand Herald said.
For additional reports from The New Zealand Herald, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ New Zealand Herald.
Pacific Islands News Association (PINA)