NZDF personnel trashed Niue hotel

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 11:38 16/07/2014

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Authorities in two countries are being coy over how a New Zealand military staffer caused "considerable damage" to Niue's only hotel.

But the parties agree it was something to do with fire extinguishers.

In a statement today the Defence Force (NZDF) confirmed that on July 2 a small group of their personnel caused damage to Matavai Resort.

It was offering to pay for the damage and said military police were investigating.

Matavai manager Sarah King would not say what happened, referring inquiries to Niue's Chief of Police, Tony Edwards.

He told Stuff that officers investigated but laid no charges after the military told them it was investigating a staffer.

"By way of short summary it is alleged that a member of the NZDF had caused damages to the Matavai Resort after a fire extinguisher was activated, causing considerable damage," Edwards said.

Matavai was reopened two years ago after Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully directed $10 million in aid to get it up to international standard.

The resort was regarded as vital to the efforts of both Niue and New Zealand to save the small island through tourism.

NZDF said it had a "small number" of people in Niue at the end of last month to prepare for ''a significant'' exercise later in the year.

"The NZDF can confirm that in the early hours of Wednesday July 2 it appears that fire extinguishers at the hotel where they were staying may have been let off by a member or members of the NZDF," the military said.

"The NZDF has been advised that this disturbed guests and damaged rooms at the hotel."

The Defence Force had apologised to staff at Matavai and the guests, as well as "seeing what assistance it can offer in making repairs at the hotel".

It would make no further comment until its investigation was complete.

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