HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 570:29 June 2011

News Briefs

Barge still in port
The barge carrying materials and equipment for the upgrade of the Mauke wharf will depart today or tomorrow depending on the weather. The 10 by 53 meter barge was quite a spectacle for locals over the weekend as it was packed to the brim with all kinds of machinery and vehicles. This is the first trip for the barge to Mauke, and when it returns it will make another trip carrying goods from the local interisland ship before it returns to Fiji where it is based.
The barge will then return one more time with more machinery and will only make consequent trips after that when the contractors Pacific Marine and Civil Solutions need more materials.
The barge is capable of carrying 1200 tonnes and on this trip brought 786 tons. They offloaded 32 pallets of cement for a local company and so was able to top up again with goods locally.
The barge will only take 1 day to reach Mauke. To get here from Fiji took them 9 days travelling at 6-7 knots. In this trip they lost an anchor and ramp because they did not store these correctly having to leave in a rush to make the 30th May arrival deadline. The barge is operated by 10 crew and was sourced from Adelaide last November. But it was built in 1977.
The operators and building contractors will be flying in later on to do the work.
The only other challenge facing the barge operators is how to securely land their heavy machinery using Mauke’s small harbour.

Take Two Art Exhibition - Mata Priest and Nathan Welsh
Kay George from the Art Studio in Arorangi told the Herald on Tuesday, that there had been a “really good turn out” on Saturday June 4th, for the preview of the Take Two Art Exhibition by local artists, Nathan Welsh and Mata Priest. There was a lot of interest in the exhibition and five pieces were sold. That’s the good thing about the community – they all come out and support local exhibitions, says George.
The collection of Nathan’s artwork was just a small sampling of what this young and talented Cook Islander is all about. Nathan is self taught and quite diverse as he uses all sorts of material for his art work and works at his own pace. He has a small market creating art for clients in both New Zealand and Australia and won a competition in New Zealand for his graffiti work. Nathan was going to be doing some workshops while he was in Rarotonga, but has unfortunately run out of time – he will be back though!
Growing up in the Cook Islands, Mata has been influenced by people who had a passion for art, and she knew she wanted to contribute something beautiful of her own to share. While at St Cuthbert’s College in Auckland, New Zealand, Mata enrolled in many art classes and learnt the baby steps of painting, technology and photography. Mata learnt how to appreciate art and was constantly being introduced to new media and ideas from contemporary and classic artists who would use ideas from their past or homeland to create a masterpiece. Photography and painting were Mata’s main focus during her senior year at Tereora College and coming home for that year, is what greatly influenced her to produce the works on display at the exhibition.

Maire harvesting on Nukuroa for the Hawaiian market
Every Monday about 35 mama’s on the island of Mitiaro take that trip in the makatea rocks to harvest maire to export to the Hawaiian market. During the last few months, they had a steady order of 350 strands of maire to be sent to Rarotonga then, onto the Hawaiian market through an assigned agent. He checks the weekly supply abides with protocol before freighting them to Hawaii and also, the agent ensures that the mama’s weekly payment arrives on time – every Friday through the local Bank of the Cook Islands.
Problems had been with over harvest of maire and the danger posed when the mamas go to the interior and harvest the crop. They can cut their feet on sharp coral pinnacles or get lost overnight. There should be a project on the island aimed at growing maire in the outskirts of the residential areas in an environment created that is similar to the natural environment in the island’s interior. The project however needs to be properly monitored perhaps by agriculture staff on Mitiaro. Such projects should be encouraged according to the mama’s however; the plants nearer the natural forest are doing better indicating that recreating the forest microclimate might go a long way in the domestication of maire.
The cost for a strand of maire is about $11 and fifty cents and, with that steady income of $4,000 generated coming back to the island every week it definitely helps to buy basic food for their families and also help pay their telephone and electricity bills. The mamas are hoping this steady maire market will go a long way to help with family needs on the island such as food. Sister islands like Atiu, Mauke and Mangaia are also striving as well in this rough working environment to meet their weekly demands of maire for the Hawaiian market.
Individually each of the mama’s involved in this initiative must produce 10 strands of good quality maire.

Jim Vivieaere – On a Personal Note
Mahiriki Tangaroa, Curator of the National Museum, spoke to the Herald on Tuesday about how Cook Islands artist and curator Jim Vivieaere, who passed away in Auckland last Friday, was an inspiring person, great supporter and mentor to herself and also up coming and merging artists. Jim was in support of challenging conventions, especially Polynesian and Pacific art. He created a platform for artists to present themselves artistically says Mahiriki. Jim attracted an audience and was able to engage with them and this was demonstrated in 1994 at the “Bottled Ocean” exhibition in New Zealand. The exhibition showed the ability and skill Jim had to be able to put Pacific art on stage and engage with a wider audience. Mahiriki has known Jim since 1996 and over the years he has advised her on how an exhibition should be hung and exhibited and the importance of presentation. Jim’s work has always been controversial says Mahiriki, as people are not sure what they are looking at, what it meant or what relevance it had.
It got people thinking and challenged them in the way they looked at his artwork – he liked that. Jim’s last Rarotongan exhibition “Close to Home” in 2004 was at Eruera Nia’s Inanui Gallery. On that occasion his work was shown alongside pieces by Ani O’Neil, Eruera Nia and Tim Buchanan.

Boxing - Next fight night 30 June
Following the successful fight night at the Tupapa Centre last Thursday evening, the Cook Islands Amateur Boxing Association (CIABA) Executive has decided to stage another fight night at the Centre on Thursday 30 June.
Keep that date in mind boxing fans. If you missed the last event which was a beauty and which had the crowd roaring, you get another chance at the end of June to take in some great action as the boys prepare for a stiff contest against the best Tahiti can throw at them. And the Tahitians should be tough after all they have 1200 serious boxers to choose from.
Staging the next fight night at the end of June is made possible because the Tahitian team has delayed their visit till July the reason being there will be two flights in the week. That will enable the Tahitians to arrive on a Tuesday, fight on the Wednesday night then return home on Thursday. Staying just two nights will be a great cost saver.
Thanks to the great crowd turn out last Thursday, the CIABA has been able to stack a few more much needed dollars in the bank. And the CIABA thanks the crowd who were well behaved. There were parents with their young ones and an older generation of boxers from yesteryear. It was a great family night out and the sausage sizzle outside the main door provided much needed sustenance. The rain, heavy at times, did not deter the fans. Many chose to watch the action through the windows and from outside the door.
Unlike previous fight nights, the Tupapa Centre allows the CIABA to erect a proper ring and that pleased the boys, standing I metre above the floor it gives all boxing fans a good view of the action. This new ring can be put up in just 4 hours and taken down in 20 minutes. The venue itself has a bar serving a wide selection of refreshments including fruit and soft drinks. There is ample seating and space to walk around. Plenty of parking is available and the CIABA had security on the door.
So remember the date boxing fans, Thursday 30 June-be there.

Mitiaro Island Council over $12,000 in debt
The Herald has learnt that the Mitiaro Island Administration is some $12,000 in debt. Apparently some $9,000 is owed to Triad for fuel and Taio Shipping advised the Herald on Tuesday, they are owed $3,800 for freight. Fuel is being rationed on Mitiaro until more fuel is sent. However that is unlikely unless the freight charges are settled. The power generators are only operating for part of the day, at least 14 hours the Herald has been told by a local. The Herald understands the Mayor of Mitiaro and Member of Parliament Tangata vavia has had talks with MOIP Minister Heather last Friday about the situation and the availability of funds. The Herald has also received an unconfirmed report from a Mitiaro resident that an Island Administration Office employee who gave birth during April is still on maternity leave and being fully paid.

Outer Islands feel the fuel squeeze
Ongoing fuel problems in the Outer Islands often start with a slow turnaround in cash flow, particularly in the trading revenues of Island Administrations in collecting money owing for fuel-related activities – like power bills. In recent weeks, an island like Mangaia has conducted trial cutbacks to save electricity and just yesterday the island was relieved to get a shipment of fuel – allowing the Island Administration to revert back to full 24 hour power supply. On Mitiaro, however, the Herald has been told that power has been reduced to eight hours a day. And the money owing for shipping and the supply of fuel has now climbed to at least 12,000 dollars. So far, the Ministry of Finance is keeping quiet about the financial situation of the Mitiaro Island Administration. If there is a cashflow problem on the island – which has slowed down the payment of bills – it has now become clear that the private sector businesses are no longer willing to carry the debt.
Similar constraints are being experienced on Atiu where the island has been cut back to 19 hours of power a day, since last week. There are presently no fuel sales and the collection of rubbish has come to a halt because of a lack of diesel.

Two issues in Employment Relations Bill need further research
The Select Committee considering the Employment Relations Bill has decided to defer two items for further research. They are the matter of payment for Maternity Leave where there is a proposal that government and the employer pay two weeks each and the matter of increasing the Minimum Wage from $5 an hour. The Herald has learnt that both issues are a sticking point with the private sector. On the issue of increasing the Minimum wage from its current level of $5 per hour, the Herald understands the Chamber of Commerce is proposing an increase of just 75 cents per hour. This is despite one previous survey of members by the Chamber showing most employees were being paid around $7 an hour.

Walk the talk 5pm Wednesday
The Walk the Talk will take place today from the Punanga Nui Market starting at 5pm. The Herald understands, the Vaevae Challenge teams who partake in today’s events will receive bonus points too. There are 3 routes to take part in, the 1km, 3 and 5k walk with water and fresh fruit available after the event. Walk the Talk t-shirts is also selling from CISNOC for $5 each with all funds raised from the t-shirt sales going towards Team Cook Islands who will be heading to the South Pacific Games in New Caledonia this year.

The local dog, not as dangerous as some of its Kiwi counterparts
While there are calls in New Zealand for tougher action against dangerous dogs, here in the Cook Islands we can count ourselves fairly lucky that we do not experience the vicious dog attacks against young helpless children.
While some tourists have experienced being menaced by growling crossbreeds while out walking or being chased while pedalling bicycles, luckily here on Rarotonga, we do not have any known breeds of dangerous dogs.
On the whole, here in the Cook Islands, man’s best friend is just that. Recently, some tourists have commented on how friendly the dogs are. Just as friendly as the locals. The toughest thing a local dog has to endure is getting across to the other side of the road without being hit by a maniac at the wheel. While the Police and the Tourism Corporation may have warned visitors about the local dog, the Corporation may have overlooked the possibility that the local dog may be a tourist attraction in its own right.
Unfortunately, in NZ, the number of attacks by dogs on the public is rising. Just last week, the NZ Herald newspaper reported two young girls where viciously attacked in two separate attacks. A two year old girl has had to have surgery at Whakatane Hospital to repair her face after being savaged by what is believed to be a Pitbull. Hours earlier, a four year old girl was attacked by a Bull Mastiff and she faces multiple operations to rebuild her face. The attacks cap a string of horror maulings in the past two weeks, including one that left a Bay of Plenty woman scalped, and another with a woman set upon by a pack of pig dogs. These incidents have prompted Local Government Minister Rodney Hide to pledge a reform of dog control laws before the November election.
Interestingly, the number of dogs on Rarotonga has decreased in the last 15 years from around 6,000 to 2,000. Staff from the Esther Honey Foundation Clinic recently carried out a census of local dogs and Cathy Sue Ragan – Anunsen, President & CEO of The Esther Honey Foundation comments in a separate article below on the census.

Drop in dog numbers
In the last 15 years the number of dogs on Rarotonga has dropped from around 6,000 to 2,000.
The Cook Islands are unique in the South Pacific in regard to the condition of their dog and cat populations. More than 15 years of veterinary care with an emphasis on spay and neuter that has been made available to every family and every cat and dog has made a significant difference. (Esther Honey has treated more than 29,000 patients and desexed more than 12,000 cats and dogs.)
The situation is definitely not perfect yet , but compared to any other South Pacific island travel destination, if the tourists who write to us and participate in on-line travel forums are right, the Cook Islands animal population is noticeably healthier, fewer in number, better cared for and, perhaps as a result, much better natured than those in competing destinations.
We know that this difference is important to the large number of animal lovers who travel, and hope that this factor will soon be recognized as another arrow in the Cook Islands’ tourism quiver! Visitors loved the dog crossing signs, for example, that once dotted the road warning locals and tourists to drive cautiously, but we have been unable to get permission to replace those that were taken or damaged. I hope that this decision can be reconsidered as the signs added to the perception that the Rarotonga community cares about the safety and health of humans and animals.
Before the foundation came to the Cook Islands we were advised that there were 6,000 dogs and 8,000 cats on Rarotonga. We requested and it was agreed that a census would be conducted before our arrival giving us a baseline, but unfortunately that census didn’t occur. We formally requested a census again in 2002 without success.
We continued working toward our goal of sterilizing 70%or more of the canine population, a figure that many studies have now shown to stabilize street dog populations. Sterilizing more than 70% brings a steep reduction with numbers continuing to decline as long as an ongoing veterinary spay-neuter program, such as EHF’s, remains available.
The Esther Honey Foundation was the first animal advocacy organization in the region to introduce the 70% solution and the only one to achieve it. In 2010, 26 EHF volunteers spent 465 hours (93 days, an average of 5 hours each day) -- at a cost of $1,551.00 in gas and bike rentals-- going door to door island-wide counting all owned and wandering dogs and recording the number of those dogs who were desexed, were intact or if their status could not be determined.
The results confirmed that Esther Honey’s long-term spay/neuter program has not only stabilized the canine population, but has reduced the number of dogs on Rarotonga. The census documented that there were 2,000 dogs on Rarotonga and 78% of that number were desexed.
Their numbers will continue to decline with the continuation of our spay/neuter services. The more animals--cats and dogs--that we desex, the quicker the overall numbers will fall, leaving only those animals who are wanted, loved and well-cared for. –Cathy Sue Ragan-Anunsen, President & CEO, The Esther Honey Foundation

No more blackouts for Mangaia
Mangaia was jubilant at the sight of their cargo being offloaded on Tuesday. On the small vessel was much needed diesel to fuel the island’s electricity supply. Mangaia Island Administration had started rationing fuel from the week of May the 19th shutting off the power at 12 midnight until 6am the next morning.
According to Island Secretary Helen Henry, over the weekend they were running on borrowed fuel. They had borrowed from bowsers, local contractors like Pa Reu Machinery and basically anyone who had diesel.
The time for the rationing was chosen as it is normal sleeping hours for most people. In addition, it was the coolest time of the day which was good for refridgerators and deep freezers with frozen goods.
Henry says that if the Taio ship had not arrived when it did they were possibly facing a blackout that day.
The ship brought 32,000 litres which was then used to repay the borrowed fuel with the balance going to the power station.
According to Henry, this is the first time this has happened since she has been the Island Secretary and was a result of poor monitoring of the fuel capacity. She has now put in place measures that will prevent this from happening again. Once the stored fuel levels drop to 10,000 litres she will be placing an order. She will also treat 8,000 litres as her absolute critical mark by which she must place an order. The other problem was the lack of a ship to bring them some fuel as the boat was originally destined for Manihiki. She says that there was concern raised by the shipper that the boat was also not full enough to travel to the island, prompting herself and her staff to call around and ask local businesses to place orders in Rarotonga to help fill the boat.
The island consumes about 400 litres of fuel a day.
In this time of need, the Mangaia wind project which collapsed around the 7th May 2011 could not assist the island. The project when installed in January 2004 was to supply about 20% of the island’s electricity needs. The project was never able to do that and was marred with numerous problems including mechanical and electrical failures.
This is the first time since the new harbour was opened that the weather was calm for offloading.
The new harbour is not quite finished with some blasting still required at the entrance and the completion of the slip way among other components. The contractors Pa Reu are expected to complete the works as soon as some replacement parts for their equipment arrive. - JM

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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