HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 570:29 June 2011

Luncheon honours Te Tika
On Tuesday, our First Lady, Akaiti Puna, the wife of the Prime Minister along with the wives of other MPs, hosted our new High Commissioner to NZ, Te Tika Mataiapo, Dorice Reid to an informal, relaxed luncheon in Nikao at the home of Akaiti’s daughter. Akaiti told the Herald on Wednesday morning that the purpose of the gathering was to honour a fine, long standing role model for other Cook Islands women. Te Tika had been a strong advocate for the culture and this will no doubt continue said Akaiti. The wives wanted Te Tika to know of the high esteem they and the people held her in and wanted to encourage and support her in her new role. She said Te Tika had achieved the highest position a Cook Islands woman had reached to date and that made everyone proud. Te Tika was presented with a gift. It was decided to hold the luncheon at a private home to give the occasion a personal touch.

New travel policy creates work
Government’s new revamped travel policy which requires HOMs to forward details of all overseas travel to the Public Service Commissioner for scrutiny prior to travel is resulting in a great deal more work for the Office of the PSC. The PSC is now carrying out detailed follow ups and checks into travel applications and the concern on the part of some HOMs is whether the exercise has become so time consuming as to be counter-productive. One HOM has estimated it could take up to 2 days for the PSC to carry out their checks. In one case the Herald understands the PSC check was nearly 20 pages long. The Herald wonders if the same dedication to such detail could be applied in respect of MP’s travel. In June the PM is heading to Vienna, one Minister is off to Korea and Brussels.

Fatal accident claims motorcyclist
A fatal accident that occurred early this morning has claimed the life of a male motorcyclist. Police say the male driver and a pillion passenger were heading towards town when it collided into a motorvehicle. Traffic this morning had to be diverted as police cordoned off the scene while they continued their investigation. The police however have confirmed, alcohol and speed were the main causes into this morning’s fatal accident. It’s understood, the female pillion passenger is still in hospital, and the female driver of the vehicle is understood to have been treated for shock. Police say, this is the first fatal accident on Rarotonga since March last year.

Tourism figures revised downwards, less tax revenues expected
A report submitted to Cabinet on 10 May by the Minister of Finance drew attention to a revision of taxation revenue estimates as a result of a review of the Tourism Growth Strategy and its associated impacts on nominal GDP.
It is a revision downwards in expected tourism numbers and this is not what Cabinet nor the industry want to hear.
While tax revenues make up around 85% of government’s operating revenues, tourism is the major sector of the economy. Any downward revision in tourism in this year and outer years flows through to downward revisions in nominal GDP and thus lower tax revenues.
So were the original estimates a little over optimistic? For several years now as this writer has reported earlier, government estimates have had that rosy, good news look about them. In these difficult times, it’s better to be honest and tell the truth.
It seems it has taken the arrival of an economist from the NZ Treasury, a person with both feet on the ground, to bring a dose of reality to our government’s estimates.
While no reasons have been given for the lower tourism estimates, people in the street have figured it out for themselves. Natural disasters in NZ and Australia and rising oil prices will have an impact.
Any ideas our government might have about splitting up the $3 million NZAID intended for tourism so part of it can be used to reduce the deficit, should be forgotten as it is hardly likely NZAID will agree.

Fight night now Thursday 26 May at Tupapa Centre
The boxing event set down for Thursday 19 May at the Banana Court will now take place a week later, on Thursday 26 May and the venue will now be the Tupapa Centre. These changes were announced by the Cook Islands Amateur Boxing Association (CIABA) at its executive meeting on Tuesday. The change in date was to give local boxers more time to prepare and the new venue will cater for a bigger audience given that revenue is now a top priority for the CIABA with the South Pacific Games (SPG)approaching. Entry fee is $5 for adults and $2 for children.

Boxing needs to raise over $6,000 for the South Pacific Games

The sport of boxing has always been cash strapped and now this small sports code needs to raise over $6,000 to send 4 boxers to the SPG in New Caledonia not mention several officials. Sports fans can help greatly by coming along to the fight night at the Tupapa centre on Thursday 26 May where some of the Cook Islands best boxers will be on display. While boxing will submit a “long list” of potential boxers for the SPG, those most likely to get the final nod are expected to be Matthew Titoa, Oselai Hagai, Eddie Daniel and Jubilee Arama although strong challengers are Bernard Okotai and Marcus Craig.

Tahitian Boxers coming June 16-23
Tahiti is to send a team of six top boxers to Rarotonga on June 16 for a tournament with local boxers. The Tahitian boxers will be meeting their own expenses except for accommodation. With over 1,200 registered boxers in Tahiti, only the best will be coming. In the last tournament with Tahiti in Rarotonga held at the National Auditorium in front of a crowd of 800, the result was two matches all.

RCCNZ plays key role
The Rescue Coordination Centre of Maritime New Zealand (RCCNZ) played a key role in this weekend’s search for missing Arorangi man Manuela Fortes, who was lost overboard the vessel Kwai on its way to Pukapuka and Nassau. Today, two members from RCC in Wellington (Rodney Bracefield and Kevin Banaghan) were conducting a training session on search and rescue with local police, at the Maritime Surveillance Centre at Avatiu. The RCC helped our police by coordinating the search area for Fortes, and in sending an Orion aircraft to join the search efforts.

Matavera CICC begin Fundrasier
The Matavera CICC will next month begin its first major fundraiser in aid of rebuilding the Matavera Sunday School Hall. To kick off the fundraising efforts, a radiothon has been scheduled for the 24th of next month. It’s understood, fundraisers will be carried over a 3-year period aiming at reaching $500,000.

Caretakers heading back to Suwarrow

The 2 Suwarrow caretakers will depart next week for the island and will stay for up to 7-months. National Environment Services Liz Munro says, both the Park Ranger James Mataa and Assistant Park Ranger John Trego will monitor yachties, and conduct various other ministerial checks to ensure Suwarrow retains its pristine clean state. Cook Islands Herald was told, that yachties fees are charged US$50 with the funds going back into the Suwarrow protection fund. The pair are contracted with the National Environment Services for 2 terms only and will next year re-advertise the position.

Bulldogs still in the competition

The Titikaveka Bulldogs reserve grade side will remain in the rugby league competition after defaulting their match last Saturday due to religious beliefs. The Association met today and says, the team will now go up against the Avatiu Eels on Friday at 4.30pm at the BCI Stadium.


The Christian-based strongman show called “Team Xtreme” is getting a local makeover. YWAM leader Eddie Ene says he’s putting the ‘team’ together made up of local stars like Kevin Iro, Clem Fortes, and Sam Pera Jr. It remains to be seen whether these ‘strongmen’ can rip apart phonebooks, smash concrete blocks with their heads, and lift up cars with one hand! It’s all in aid of bringing people closer to God.

Government House was the scene of another diplomatic ceremony today with France Ambassador Francis Etienne presenting his credentials to the Queen’s Representative Sir Frederick Goodwin, this morning. The Ambassador was joined by his wife Jane, an Australian national. Etienne is based in Wellington, having been posted there last October. The diplomatic relations with France is also served in-country by an Honorary Consul - currently Nathalie Rosette Cazel-Tierney.

Tutakimoa fishermen are looking forward to making use of a new boat, thanks to external fuding assistance and the help of Teina Rongo. The fishermen have also organised themselves into a new association, says Chairman Pita Toto.

NZAID (Jonathan Rowe) and the Department of Human Resources (Frances Topa-Fariu) have announced new policy changes to the scholarship programme with NZ. Among the key changes is the new name: Pacific Scholarships Scheme - a programme that focuses on strengthening leadership in the region. The NZ Government has boosted the scholarships for the Pacific by 100. That means the Cook Islands gets another three places (on top of the existing three) to study in NZ. Both governments also want to strengthen the obligation on students to return home after the completion of study and contrubite to the growth and development of the Cook Islands.

Black Rock Pre-School is the lucky recipient of aid funds from the Community Initiative Scheme. The school has been awarded $19,000 worth of resources thanks to a grant from the CIS. The kids will have the benefit of new learning material, including new toys!

Rugby League latest: Tupapa Panther Reserves have been disqualified from their finals game after a complaint was upheld that they fielded an illegal player in their match against the Avatiu Eels. Also, the Association has ruled that the Titikaveka Bulldogs Reserves - which failed to field a full team on Saturday (due to religious beliefs) - is not out of the competition. The Dogs get another life on Friday when the Reserves come up against the Eels to determine who will go to the grand final. Meanwhile, the RL Judiciary will meet tomorrow on the fighting incident that involved a spector and touch judge coming to blows.

Cook Islands nurses receive Australian scholarship
Two Cook Islands nurses have been selected to receive Australian Leadership Awards (ALA) Fellowships which aim to help improve health services across the Pacific.
Joyce Matamaki of Avarua and Teinakore (Teina) Windy of Atiu will travel to Sydney in June 2011 as part of a six month work and study program sponsored by the Australian Government.
The two Cook Islanders, together with ten fellows from Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, will study Nursing and Midwifery Leadership and Health System Strengthening through the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.
During their course of study, the nurses will develop an in-country action plan for improving health services that will be shared with colleagues upon their return to the Cook Islands.
Joyce and Teina say they feel honoured to receive the fellowship and they are looking forward to implementing what they learn.
“The knowledge I gain during the program will help me improve hospital care for my patients,” says Joyce.
Teina says that the ALA Fellowship’s focus on maternal and child health is very important. She looks forward to working with her community to improve health services on Atiu.
The application for this program was submitted by the University of Technology, Sydney in partnership with the South Pacific Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers Alliance.
Fellows were selected in recognition of their skills, experience and positions as current and future leaders in the Cook Islands health system.
The ALA Fellowship work and study program has been designed to strengthen health systems in the Pacific and help achieve the Millennium Development Goals. ALA Fellowships are administered by AusAID, Australia’s international development agency.

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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