01 October 2009
PM to assess Samoan tsunami damage firsthand
Prime Minister John Key will return to New Zealand earlier than expected in order to fly to tsunami-hit Samoa.
Mr Key, who has been holidaying in the United States, will return to Auckland on Saturday and then fly out to Samoa a few hours later.
“While officials have kept me regularly informed, it is important I see the extent of the damage myself.
“I made good friends with the Samoan people on my visit in July and I was shocked to see the devastation on the south coast of the island. The villagers of Poutasi were particularly kind and it is heartbreaking to hear the village was destroyed by the waters.
“It is important that I reassure Samoan leaders face to face that New Zealand stands ready to assist - not just with short-term disaster relief but with long-term reconstruction.
“I have purposefully made my visit very brief. I am mindful that essential life-saving work is going on on the ground, and I do not want my visit in any way to distract from that.”
The Prime Minister will return to New Zealand on Sunday.