HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 574:27 July 2011

News Briefs

Budget speech statement not correct
On page 3 of his budget speech the Finance Minister says the $50,000 allocated to set up a Sea Bed Minerals Commission is the first time in recent years any government has pledged tangible support towards realizing the benefits of this very important sector.
Whoever wrote the Minister’s speech probably did not research back to the 2009/2010 Budget document POBOC which allocated $20,000 for administration costs to set up the Sea Bed Minerals Authority as it was called then.

Personnel costs not addressed
In the Budget document, page 9 under operating expenditure we see Ministry outputs costing $63,859,000 which is down $237,000 on the previous year. However, there’s been a $791,000 rise in personnel costs to $44,056,000 which is 69 percent of operating expenditure. Operating costs have dropped by $1,120,000 to $16,518,000 which is 26 percent of operating costs. (depreciation makes up the other 5 percent). The personnel cost as a percentage of total revenue is 41.5 percent which is above the 40 percent bench mark. Government is hoping the ADB funded review of the public service will address the expanding cost of the public service.

Outrageous fees
The Ministry of Culture, recently asked Radio Cook Islands to broadcast Te Maeva Nui events at the National Auditorium and duly received advice of Radio Cook Islands fee to do so.
After what must have been a brain explosion, the Ministry then informed Radio Cook Islands that if it wished to broadcast the events, it would cost Radio Cook Islands a staggering $19,000 to do so.
Radio Cook Islands had no option but to decline.
It is not known what commercial reality the Ministry exists in but surely it realizes there is no likelihood whatsoever of any radio station recovering $19,000 from advertising fees in this current economy.
Ministries are not known for implementing communication strategies or establishing budgets to cover media publicity. Communication and publicity tend to be last minute considerations.

New buzz word
Innovation” appears to have become the new “buzz word” with writers of long government reports. Take the Draft final report of the Economic Taskforce. In theta report the word “innovation” appears 45 times.

POBOC spending increases
The increase in POBOC spending is reflected in the bigger share of government’s overall expenditure. At the time of the Supplementary budget last April, POBOC spending was pegged at 29% of total expenditure. This has now lifted to just over 33%. And while these figures might be difficult for the public to digest – even more perplexing is trying to figure out the mistakes. Some of the commentary in the budget book is sloppy – not matching up to the figures itemized in the charts, leaving us to wonder whether the Government is really putting $500,000 into the Seabed Commission or just $50,000.

Advising on renewable energy
Te Aponga Uira (TAU)has brought in a renewable energy consultant to provide advice on how to approach the PM’s renewable energy targets. He’s only here for the week.
When approached for comment, TAU CEO Apii Timoti declined to comment but gave no reasons for doing so.
The Herald believes the Consultant engaged is New Zealand based Gerhard Zieroth a solar energy expert who was associated with the Mauke Water project back in 2005.
The Herald understands TAU spends about $12million on fuel a year and the system being proposed for conversion to 100% renewable energy will cost $150 million. This means the cost recovery period will be just over a decade. The lifetime of a solar panel is about 25 years.
Apparently, government is considering two options for electricity storage: battery and pumped storage. Batteries have some side effects like chemical waste, and lifetime is 7-10 years. Pumped storage requires two water reservoirs. The excess energy generated during the day from say, solar power, is used to pump water from a lower reservoir back uphill, and then it is released at night to produce hydro electricity during the night when there is no sun.
The pumped storage system requires a large reservoir to create the storage needed to generate sufficient power during the evening hours.

The West says “Thank you ma’ata India”
The constituency of Murienua, Puaikura on the western side of Rarotonga, is so thankful for the funding of numerous, successful village projects by the Indian Government. “Thank you ma’ata India” says Mr. Mau Raina, Works manager, under the Member of Parliament for Murienua, the Hon. Tom J. Marsters.
Mr. Raina said, “In 2010, we applied to the Indian Grant Fund project, through Aid Management. We put together a full Application with budgets. And we were successful. The funding we received from India was $15,733 and was used on long-outstanding and new village projects. Then the funds were released by Aid Management when we submitted the relevant Invoices for the work. So we managed the funds well. We are happy as well that local suppliers were used. The work was completed on budget and on time. And then we accounted for all the money in a report back to Aid Management. So everyone is happy”.
The village projects included substantial repairs to the Kavera clinic and Rutaki meeting house, beach showers and shelters from where village products and produce can now be sold. Road-side, concrete tables and chairs were also constructed. These all provide new, upgraded locations for local people to bring their products for sale. They are also a new social hub for locals and tourists to all meet and interact. “The mamas come most days and sell their goods. We hear them say “Go local” and we support them” said Mr. Raina.
The Indian funded project also ties in well with the Chinese government funded, new village tractor, that is now busy ploughing crop plantations in Murienua. The combined projects work together to boost economic activity at the grassroots level, bringing in much-needed income to homes and to families in the Murienua area.
DPM Office Media Release

Deep sea mining public sessions planned
Planning is taking place to set public awareness sessions over the next few months in the Cook Islands on the latest information on Deep Sea Mining (DSM). Some of these sessions will be in public meeting houses and some at the University of South Pacific, Cook Islands campus in Avarua. Sessions will be designed to be informative and interactive.
Senior Legal Adviser to the DSM taskforce, Paul Lynch, said that “We have some excellent early news to announce. At the recent Deep Sea Mining workshop in Fiji, I made friends with a well-known, Deep Sea research scientist, named Professor Chuck Fisher. He is a senior Professor of Biology at the Penn State University in America. He said he was coming to the Cook Islands for the first time for the SOPAC Inaugural Heads of Geoscience Meeting”. The SOPAC meeting is being held in Rarotonga in 3 months time in October.
SOPAC is the scientific arm of SPC, the Secretariat of the South Pacific, based in Fiji. SPC is the co-ordinating body for the new 4 year DSM project called the SPC-EU EDF10 Deep Sea Minerals (DSM) Project which staged the recent Fiji Workshop on “The Status of Deep Sea Minerals in the Pacific Islands Region and Planning for a Regionally Integrated Way Forward”
Lynch said “I asked Professor Fisher if he would show his amazing research about the Deep Sea in the Cook Islands. And he was more than willing to make presentations, while he is visiting Rarotonga, to the public, colleges and government ministries, on his breakthrough work in Deep Sea research”. Professor Fisher has made his scientific deep sea discoveries using his pressurized, deep sea submersible called “Alvin”, launched from sea-going research vessels.
“So pretty soon, we will have the benefit of hearing and seeing his research in the Deep sea. This is very positive for the Cook Islands, as it is clear that gaining a better understanding the environment of the Deep Sea is essential to mitigating any negative effects that may occur from Deep Sea mining in the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone in the future.”

Coffee and small talk
Last Saturday morning I had the pleasure of hosting my mum to coffee and a Café Jireh’s coconut and apricot muffin (a must to taste). When I do want time out from family and home – I pick on my mother and on a given day such as Saturday - I take her on a day out. I wonder sometimes whether daughters have time for their mothers on any given day – I think sometimes what I can do with my mum besides coffee and small talk. Most women have their way as to what they’d like to do with mum. I think in terms of mum’s age, the situation varies. I can’t take her to places such as dinner to restaurants at night, because she will say “it’s too cold.” Based on experience we have to think ahead of our mothers when we do decide to take them on an excursion on any given day. Most importantly on my check list is: make sure there is easy access to the lavatory and the place and mode is set to her tune. I can’t think of any time that I have failed to disappoint her yet in terms of taking her out – but I know she is sweet and lovely when we’re out on such given day trips.
We did coffee and small talk over another chapter in her life, the subject this time was ‘serving society’. With so much of her life been involved in the community and church she tries to instigate such involvement in our lives saying that purpose is a start to a given plan. That purposefulness is very important – “don’t waste your time and energy on unnecessary projects only to be disappointed with the end results.” True, there are something’s in life we crave for – but she reminds me to question the moral of such things – are they that really important that your life depends on it? I retaliated saying that we learn from mistakes – she argued but how many of those mistakes for the same problem? Well, are our mum’s right when they out speak us? I’m one for “chasing dreams’ and from Saturdays small talk she’s just clued me back into perspective. No more chasing dreams, this time I’m chasing purpose. Keep watching this space.

A sellout weekend for Transformers – Dark of the Moon
One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Autobots…” Last Thursday and right throughout the weekend– the Empire cinema was booming with the sounds of cars, trucks and planes that transform into fully-armed robots, stomping through cities monster-movie style. I might as well come out and say that “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is among Michael Bay’s best movies and by far the best 3-D sequel ever made about gigantic toys from outer space. I apologise if this sounds like faint praise; perhaps my own enjoyment of “Dark of the Moon” is I can’t decide if this movie is so spectacularly, breathtakingly dumb to induce people to watch something that’s not real, or so brutally brilliant that it disarms all reason. What’s the difference?
Outside the cinema the queue was a push here and there – people anticipating getting them not so much the best seat in the house but into this blockbuster movie that’s yet to hit screens in some other countries in the world. Last Saturday’s 8 o’clock session - I watched with interest the number of people both children and adults envious and ready to glue face to screen as soon as the lights dimmed. Not long ago video piracy ruled discretely with new movies not yet released on big screen. Today, it is good to see our cinema fill up and people preferring to enjoy such blockbusters such as Transformers on the big screen. The proprietors of Empire cinema have been supportive with fundraisers within our community and what fantastic way to bring in the best movies to support such fundraisers. I think it’s the best way of seeing your money’s worth. Like they say – “can’t beat the big screen...”

Mitiaro energy survey starts
The arrival of Tangi Tereapii (PM’s Office), Te Aponga Uira (TAU) CEO Apii Timoti and Thomas Jensen of UNDP signalled the start of the 1st stage of surveying and undertaking a fiscal study on the island of the opportunity in adapting to a form of alternative energy that will best suit the island community.
The team arrived on Monday 27th June and departed Friday 1st July.
NZ AID is committed this new financial year for Mitiaro to pilot this project.
Jensen intends to survey every single resident on the island along with major private and government stakeholder consumers in order to prepare and submit to Government and Donor agencies the best, quality and affordable package for Mitiaro. He is assisted by Tereapii and the Mayor of the island to make sure all power consumers are logged and all information related to each of these current and future consumers are collected.
The TAU CEO himself collected information relating to the Power house and system structure and management of the island.
The Mitiaro people hope the feedback from this survey will be beneficial the community as power usage rates have just been increased from 55c – 75c for domestic and 58-98c for commercial consumers.
The leaders and the community of Mitiaro thanks Government for considering such alternatives for the country.
Nukuroa media

Boxing names squad for Pacific Games
At its meeting on Tuesday afternoon, the Cook Islands Amateur Boxing Association (CIABA) named its squad to train for the Pacific Games in New Caledonia in September.
The CIABA considered 19 boxers in its deliberations including the three boxers from Atiu who took part in last Thursday night’s fight night in Tupapa.
The Committee settled on a squad of five boxers. With Eddie Daniel (75kg) and Osalai Hagai (93kg) certain to go, the others are Bernard Okotai (133kg), John Andrews (75kg) and Marcus Jack (70kg).
At this stage the CIABA have paid for two boxers and one official to attend the Pacific Games.
With only one boxer per category permitted, Daniel and Andrews are both at 75kg so Andrews must be regarded as a back up to Daniel.
The Committee wants to see Hagai come down in weight from 93kg by 3 kg to qualify for the Heavyweight category.
The super heavyweight Okotai shows much promise but needs constant work so regular attendance at training will be a factor.
A promising boxer based in Australia, Sonny Nooroa (93.7kg-super heavyweight) has had 9 fights but was not included as he is out of the country.
Another super heavyweight with promise, Jubilee Arama (94kg) has had 15 fights but has been boxing in Tahiti for a rival Association not affiliated to the International Association.
The national coach, Tom Marsters, will soon take charge of the squad and at the meeting, named his Assistant Coach as former Samoan boxer Matthew Titoa. Although a resident for more than five years, Titoa is unable to box for the Cook Islands as he does not as yet have a NZ passport.
Eddie Daniel with 22 fights is the most experienced of the locals who have boxed in international competition. Daniel has boxed in Australia, NZ, Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga.

Ping pong success for teen
At the age of just 14 years Luisa Mokoha had her first competition overseas against top young players from all over the world. Now, four years later Luisa is now travelling frequently representing the Cook Islands with all she’s got, at International pro- table tennis competitions.
She spoke to the Herald on Monday. Luisa is currently ranked 1st for the Cook Islands women’s table tennis team and has gone on to participate in the Pacific Mini Games held here on Rarotonga back in 2009 also being the 1st ranked for the Cook Islands Women’s team in which she became the only member of her team to reach the quarter finals. “The mini games was a great time for me as I got to compete in a national event in my homeland, I felt very proud and happy.” Commented Luisa on her time in the Mini games. Luisa recently just returned from a table tennis training camp in Australia and will soon be leaving again to take part in a competition along with two other teens that specialize in their preferred sports, Sirla Pera[ weight-lifting] and Rotana Howard[golf], the 26th Shenzhen Summer Universiade Games. The games will be held in Shenzhen, China, where Luisa and the other two participants will be playing against pro- teens in their favored sport from all around the world. Flight and accommodation expenses will be paid by FISU [Federation International du Sport Universitaire. “This is what I like to say to people who don’t believe they can achieve anything, because I’ve said and done this for the past 3 years and its worked wonders for me.” Said Luisa. “Put God first in everything you do and he shall direct your path.”

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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