HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 585: 12 October 2011

News Briefs

Transparency is choking on CIP smoke
Governments ought to be, and will be, commended for doing the right thing and improving the country’s systems and processes of governance. Accountability, in particular, is a key area that demands constant attention and various governments over the years have faced many challenges to get things right.
So when a government is genuine in its efforts, they should be congratulated. But that’s not the case with this government. The current lot in charge are good at smoke screens. Good at dressing mutton up as lamb. And good at slap dash paint jobs on a car wreck. The new colour looks great but it’s still a car wreck.
The Minister of Finance is the fall-guy for the smoke screens these days. Is the government doing this on purpose? Deliberately putting Mark Brown up to take the knocks for woolly policy and empty intentions? Good idea if you have the type of leader, whose primary concern is a clean, green image and you want the dirt to rub off on someone else. Or even better if you have the type of deputy leader, who says nothing and hopes someone else puts their foot in it.
Really though, the whole of the Cabinet has to wear the feeble attempts of fooling around with important governance institutions, and then trying to justify blatant job creation with principles of accountability. This government is miles away from anything that even smells like accountability.
Continuing in his unmatched style of shoot-from-the-hip decision-making, Minister Brown and his Prime Minister concocted a move to shift Paul Allsworth into an unannounced position. Where was the transparency that the Minister and his mates keep talking about? Plenty of huffing and puffing over improving the oversight of government but no oversight was ever applied here to a brand new role for the ex-head of the Audit Office. Even worse, contestability of the position is readily thrown out of the window.
The Finance Minister should also be concerned about the job levels in the Public Service, and the high salaries that go with senior positions in the government agencies. Yet there is no mention of the salary of this new position – or where that money is coming from in the Budget. Funny how Brown says he wants to improve government accountability but completely ignores government transparency in promoting the principle. Perhaps the grease has finally clogged up the deep fryers this time.
We all know that the Public Service Commission have been very weak in performing its functions and responsibilities. The Commissioner or CEO should have played a part in job-sizing this new position for Allsworth. Well, was this job actually sized? Was the job subject to a Job Description or approved as per the Public Service Act? Was this the Public Service Commissioner’s idea? Getting dumped and gagged couldn’t have been Allsworth’s idea. These are important questions. But they are questions going unanswered due to the lack of transparency in this government of smoke and mirrors.
Additional questions are warranted over the way public funds may have been spent on the travel by the outgoing Audit Director to New Zealand – where he supposedly scoped out the responsibilities of his new role with institutions like the NZ Ombudsman, Treasury, and State Services. Who paid for this assignment, and where did the funds come from to investigate the potential of a newly created position?
If we ever stop choking on all the smoke that’s being blown in our faces, we might get to hear the government explain how it has revived a role that was made redundant following the economic reforms in the 1990s. Parliament’s Public Finance and Expenditure Committee was rendered obsolete as a result of the PERCA Act – the review mechanism over public spending. With this latest case of non-transparency, is the government really going to take us down the road of becoming a welfare employer all over again?
-Leader of the Opposition, Robert Wigmore

Community views sought on Budget

In a break from the past, the Government will release its Budget Policy Statement on 1 December 2011 along with an update on the country’s financial and economic projections. The Budget will then proceed to Parliament in early June 2012 and once passed will be ready for implementation on 1 July 2012.
As a precursor to this, we are embarking on another first today by seeking community input into the budget process.
To this end we have released the Budget Consultation Document, which highlights how the Government sources funding, where it invests in the provision of public goods and services, and developments expected to shape the future for Cook Islanders.
Included in the Budget Consultation Document are the specific actions recommended and initially costed by the Economic Task Force. The Government is determined that the ideas of the Task force take shape and are not the makings of a talkfest. We will therefore explore the Task force short and medium term priorities in the business planning of Ministries.
The Economic Development Summit highlighted that a three-pronged approach was necessary to drive economic growth and we have already started implementing this approach.
Firstly, we will not repeat the mistakes of the past and have begun the process of improving the health of the public finances and its management by undertaking the Public Expenditure Financial Performance Assessment in June this year. We are developing the roadmap to ensure that we manage taxpayers’ funds transparently, efficiently and effectively.
Secondly, we have the basis for a strategy to encourage economic growth provided via the Task Force recommendations that Tourism, Agriculture, Trade and Enterprise, Culture and Creative Industries, Financial Services, Marine Resources are the catalysts to grow and transform our economy.
And finally, we will make sure that growth is balanced and spread across our country as evident in our focus on our Pa Enua first for the implementation of renewable energy.
The upcoming budget round will be exciting as we have already identified some easy wins amongst the recommendations of the Task Force. We will definitely implement policy changes that will actively drive growth and get behind enterprise. In fact, we have already begun putting in place the policy changes to encourage culture and creativity through developing the Traditional Knowledge and Copyright policies and legislations.
We have made changes to the immigration policy to encourage retirees here, and are working on finalising employment relations legislation. In the coming Budget we hope to step up our efforts to boost enterprise.
Our policy transformation will be complemented by our determination to implement infrastructure developments in the short, medium and long term that have been a distant dream for our people.
In deciding what developments will make the most impact on people lives in the coming financial year, I join with the Minister of Finance to invite you all to have your say and be part of helping to shape our country’s future.
Copies of the Budget Consultation Document can be downloaded from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management website at www.mfem.gov.ck. -Prime Minister, Henry Puna

New first secretary in Wellington
The Hon Tom Marsters, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has announced the appointment of Ms Tepaeru Hermann as the new First Secretary at the Cook Islands High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand. She replaces Ms Sonya Kamana who has held that position since 2003.
The First Secretary is the senior diplomatic officer under the High Commissioner, Mr Tiki Matapo, responsible for assisting the High Commissioner in official dealings with the New Zealand Government and other governments with diplomatic missions based in Wellington. Ms Hermann will assume her position this week.
“The appointment of Ms Hermann with the approval of Cabinet is an exciting development,” observed the DPM, “because it represents this Government’s commitment to the strengthening a professional Cook Islands foreign service.” The Deputy Prime Minister explained that “as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration grows over the years and our relations with New Zealand and other countries deepen and diversify, we require more professional people to promote the Cook Islands’ international interests. We look forward to more talented Cook Islanders being appointed to professional postings of our foreign service officials abroad. Ms Hermann has demonstrated her professionalism and diplomatic experience over the years which will be most useful in Wellington.”
At the same time, the Deputy Prime Minister wished to express Government’s appreciation to Ms Kamana for her faithful service to the Cook Islands High Commission over the years and wished her well for the future. - DPM Offoce Media Release

PM congratulates community and police
The Minister of Police Hon Henry Puna today congratulated the Cook Islands Police and local communities for their efforts that have seen a dramatic drop in burglaries, theft and road crashes for September.
“Community vigilance and the emphasis placed by the Police on being proactive in order to prevent crime warranted recognition” he said, “and would be welcomed by local people who were increasingly becoming more and more concerned about rising levels of burglary and theft.”
He said a more prominent police presence on trouble spot roads had clearly had an impact on reducing road crashes, and combined with media reporting and advertising may also have helped raise public awareness.
“At a time when the rest of world is railing to try to bring down their rates of crime and road accidents, the latest figures show our country’s ability to be at the forefront of initiatives that really can make a difference in terms of keeping our communities safe.”
Figures issued by the Police showed a 63 percent drop in theft and a 57 percent drop in burglary for September this year compared to the same month last year. Police also recorded a 63 percent drop in road crashes last month down from 24 in August to 10 in September.
- PM Office Media Release

September visitor figures best ever
For the first time ever, visitor arrivals to the Cook Islands reached 15,098 last month – a 40.9% increase on the previous year. “This is an unprecedented number of visitors in one month” said Tourism CEO Carmel Beattie “and especially exciting as it not traditionally our busiest month. We had been thrilled by the July numbers as they were also unprecedented at 13, 410 – a number that has been completely blown out the water this September!”
Every market to the Cooks showed double digit growth where previously Northern hemisphere markets in particular have been struggling. “ It is so good for the Tourism team and the industry to see such a great result for all their hard work. Our strategy has been to ensure that we are in market every week in Australia and New Zealand combining that with a strong PR presence and travel industry education. In the Northern Hemisphere, we use a similar combination albeit with smaller budgets and have branched out into some attention getting consumer promotions”
The results of this work seem to speak for themselves.
Tourism Corp Media Release

Northern Group experience low water situation but stable
The Northern Group islands are low on drinking water but their island administrations report that their situation is manageable at the moment. The residents are conserving their tank water which is being supplementing it with groundwater supplies that is boiled before drinking.
However, there may be some respite for the Northern Groups with the latest weather forecast for Monday 10 October predicting brief showers and a further outlook of brief showers.
MOIP said the long dry spell is a result of the effects of La Nina that has also affected parts of the Southern Group. Aitutaki, for instance, is experiencing a drought which has affected crops in the field. Even parts of Rarotonga are affected with some areas experiencing very low water pressure and MOIP urge all households and businesses to be conservative with their water usage. The weather outlook for the Southern Group is fine apart from brief showers for the next few days.
The situation is being monitored closely and the situation is stable at the moment. -Moip Media Release

Team assessing tenders for road upgrade
Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning have begun the evaluation process of all tenders received for the proposed Pokoinu to Aquarius Hotel road improvements project.
All bids received are now being assessed by a tender evaluation team in what is expected to be a two week process. The three man committee consists of a representative from MFEM, CIIC and MOIP respectively.
Factors taken into consideration include tender price, relevant experience, company resources and proposed work plan. In addition, a policy decision has been made that there will be a preference for local contractors.
All tender bids are required to include a traffic management plan to show their plans to minimize traffic disruptions and a requirement that half the road remain operational at all times. If ever it becomes necessary to close both sides of the road, it must be for a very short timeframe..
The bids were by way of sealed tenders which were opened on Friday 30 September by the engineer to the project in the presence of a senior Police Officer and a representative from the Audit Office. .
MOIP anticipates that once awarded, the project will take about four month to complete weather permitting. ­ - MOIP Media Release

Putting our future billionaires on the first rung of the ladder to success
Who knows? In time their names could become as common as “Donald Trump,” “Bill Gates” or the “Sultan of Brunei.”
Wednesday night some of our young entrepreneurs will be placing their feet on the first rung of that ladder to success thanks to a spectacular event to be held at the Punanga Nui Market. It’s starts at 5pm and finishes at 9pm. What’s the whole point of this? Well, this event will actually be run by the youth of Rarotonga, as it is them that will sell their merchandise to the public. These kids are really eager to learn the basics of enterprising and this is a great head start for them.
A few of these participants have readily agreed to be interviewed. Nadia George, a girl who has a real passion for enterprise, shares her experience with the Herald. “At first, it was quite difficult to actually comprehend the process of the business course, but with a little assistance and a push from my peers, I was able to overcome those obstacles and continue with confidence.” Nadia is the Production Director for her business group, which means that she is in charge of producing the items for her teams. I must say, she does well at her job. Her creativity has produced fantastic results.
Reny Roi was quite the rebel when she first started the course, refusing to contribute to class discussions. But after the realization that her peers were partaking in the class activities more than her, she slowly let her guard down and opened up. “Yeah, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of doing this course. But sulking over it wasn’t going to help me, so I pulled my act together and started helping my group. Bit by bit, I found out that enterprise was, in actual fact, COOL! So I stepped up my game and put in some effort, not just for my sake, but for the team as well.” I’m glad that you found the light at the end of the tunnel, Reny. Hold strong and keep up the good work!
Ngatokorima Paia was a dedicated student since the first day the enterprise course began. She gave in her CV and applied for the position of Managing Director. She envisioned herself leading her group to glory…and then reality struck her. Things weren’t going as smooth as she anticipated. “I felt as if I were the only one doing all the work. Some of my team members were allocated to certain positions but they weren’t doing their jobs at all. So it was up to me to handle all the problems. It was at that moment that I realized that I had the authority to tell these people what to do. And that’s exactly what I did.” After that, Ngatokorima got the message through. She was the boss and she didn’t accept any slackers on her team. Good on her!
Stephanie Tua was unsure in her role as Sales and Marketing Director. She lacked the confidence to put her ideas forward to the team. This enterprise course helped her overcome that fear. “Even when the others didn’t agree with my ideas, I defended them. So what if they didn’t like it? I was the Sales and Marketing Director. I put my ideas on display and people were actually impressed with what I had to offer, and that gave me the boost that I needed.”
All of these kids’ efforts have finally paid off. The night of reckoning has finally come upon them. Why don’t you head on down to the Punanga Nui market and support them? It’ll be worth your while and you might even be surprised by what you could find down there. So what are you waiting for? Grab your wallet and spend like mad down at the Youth Night Market! -Norma Ngatmariki

Business Blossoming for New Fashion Store
The owners of new contemporary women’s fashion store, Blossom, now have multiple reasons to celebrate with their new business venture flourishing, as well as a new arrival to their family. Renee Galea, who operates and owns the business in partnership with her fiancé, Rory McBride, recently gave birth to their second child, daughter Kealani.
Blossom, located next door to Delilicious Cafe in the village of Muri, opened in August of this year. Galea and McBride’s regular visits from Australia back to Rarotonga, before finally making the move to settle back in Rarotonga permanently, were part of the inspiration behind launching into the business venture. “It was coming here for holidays with spending money and there wasn’t really anything that I found appropriate to buy, as in clothing or fashion accessories, that you could wear back home.”
Galea describes the range of clothing and accessories available at Blossom, which includes Australian brands such as Ladakh, Fate and Betty Basics, as “feminine and affordable women’s fashion”. The clothing prices range from just $25 up to $190, with the exception of pieces by Australian swimwear design label, Seafolly, which are priced slightly higher. “It’s not high end fashion and yet it’s not poor quality clothing. You get what you pay for and the prices are comparable to what you pay in New Zealand. So if you buy something from here and go back to New Zealand to visit family you’re not going to find the same dress for a hundred dollars less.”
Galea has complemented the range of contemporary jewellery, clothing and accessories in Blossom with a few extra products such as local beauty range ‘Akaea and the recipe book Me’a Kai. Eventually she hopes to expand her collection to stock a carefully selected range of leather shoes and handbags. Only in its seventh week of trade, Galea describes the response to Blossom as positive. “Tourists are definitely buying. And I haven’t really advertised but the word’s getting around amongst the locals, which is good. I’ve got a few regulars that have been coming in every week when my new stock comes in, and I’m seeing new local faces every week.”
Although this is the first business the pair has owned, Galea emphasised the support they have received from the wider community. Family, friends and regulars to the store have been forthcoming in giving guidance as to what the demand is on the island and she also expressed that the Business Trade Investment Board had been “very supportive”, offering feedback and guidance in setting up the business. “It was a learning experience, because this is the first time Rory and I have ever done anything like this or owned our own business. It did take a lot longer than what I had expected... everything took time. But [in the end] it was exactly as we had planned – what we envisioned the shop would be like.” Blossom is open Sunday to Friday 10am to 5pm. -Ngariki Ngatae

Cowboys Corner

Welcome to “Cowboys Corner”, last Saturday’s first round of Club 7’s was a great opener for the local Clubs and the two participating teams to prepare for International 7’s. The International tournament will be played on the 3rd, 4th and 5th November which means we are now 3 weeks away from the big international hit-out. Last Saturday’s games were a great indicator for players and team admin to work-out the internal gaps and address them so this Saturday’s matches will be a test to see if things are improving if not there is still time to get it right.
In the Arorangi camp and in preparation for the big tournament, things are in full swing. This year Arorangi will again be represented in the women’s (T&M Crushers) and men’s (Cowboys).
The T&M Crushers are sponsored by T&M Heather, coached by National Women’s 7’s rugby coach Nooroa Maui and managed by Poko Heather. They will be holding small fundraising activities over the next few weeks. So businesses or individuals that are interested in supporting the Crushers women’s team do contact Poko on phone 50-387 and find out what’s happening. Any support will be greatly appreciated by the ladies. The team is in good spirit and are preparing well for the big event. Expect to see the return of international representative players like Akaiti Purea, Jamie Gotty, Awhitia Pepe, Julianne Westrupp, Patricia Taea and more.
The Arorangi Cowboys are sponsored/ supported by Island Car & Bike Hire, coached by Rob Heather Snr and managed by William Tuivaga. The team had a hit-out on Monday night and many players are working off the cobwebs from 15’s rugby. Interestingly many players from the U16’s and U19’s age grade have also put their names forward to trial out and make the final 12 for the international tournament. Rob Heather Jnr, Tereina Murare, Oneal Rongo, Peter Kermode, Tiare Kura to just name a few were out there doing their thing and keeping up with the much more experienced seniors under the watchful eyes of Coach Rob Heather Snr. So we may be expecting to see a balance of youth and senior grade players for the marquee event in November. This aligns well with the Club junior development program.
Those in Arorangi wanting to trial out for the local sides or just help out are most welcome to attend training sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 5:30pm. Businesses or individuals wanting to give a little support to the teams are welcome to contact the team coaches or managers if you have queries.
This weekend’s matches will be held at Avatiu Rugby Paddock aka “the swamp” and games will kick off at 2:00pm. The results from last weekend’s matches have not being released by CIRU as yet so the draw is not completed yet as it comes down to points “for and against” to declare 2nd and 3rd place in both pools.
An important point to note that has had a bearing on this weekend’s draw is because at starting time (2:00pm) last weekend neither team (of the 8) had a full squad. The first games for all teams were declared a draw...nil all. So stronger teams that were awarded a draw will want to make things right this weekend and inexperienced teams know that this is it...no more lifelines.
So to align with the International fever...”Shuffle it” to the Swamp this weekend and support your team as they prepare for the November marquee event.
Next week, we will bring more rugby news from the Cowboys Rugby Club 2011 campaign which will end in November after the International 7’s tournament and acknowledge another supporting sponsor of Cowboys Rugby. Good luck our team this weekend.

Budget consultation document released to public today

The Minister of Finance Hon Mark Brown today released the country’s first Budget Consultation Document and called on all Cook Islanders to have their say and help shape the development of the country’s next Budget.
“I urge all individuals, businesses, churches, and civil society groups to read the Budget Consultation Document and make submissions that will be considered by government agencies to help inform future planning of service delivery to the people of the Cook Islands.”
The document gives an overview of the development context of the Cook Islands, how the Government of the Cook Islands sources funding, where it invests it in the provision of public goods and services, and developments occurring within Government that are intended to shape the future for Cook Islanders.
These developments include outcomes in the National Sustainable Development Plan 2011-2015, recommendations from the Economic Summit 2011 and outcomes of the Functional Review of government agencies.
“There is no set format for people making submissions to the document, I simply encourage everyone, regardless of who they are, to make their views on the consultation document known to us.”
“Submissions do not need to be comprehensive and can be as long as people wish on any of the Budget matters in the consultation booklet.”
He said Government was aiming to get the Budget to Parliament in early June 2012 for the Committee, and Parliamentary debate. Once passed the Budget would be ready for implementation on 1 July 2012.
All submissions will be posted on the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management website at www.mfem@gov.ck and can be emailed to budgetinfo@mfem.gov.ck before the 28th October 2011.
Copies of the Budget Consultation Document can also be downloaded from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management website www.mfem@gov.ck - MFEM Media Release

Hooray for the School Holidays!

Well, tamarikis’, the moment we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. The school holidays are here and it’s time to run out of that house and look for some fun! Yes, children, you are allowed to gap it to town or to where ever you want. It really sucks though, because we only have, like, one week of freedom, so you better make the most of it. Here are some tips on how to keep you from saying “I’m bored,” or “This sucks!”
Well, the first thing I’m going to suggest to you is to GET A JOB! This is the piece of advice that I tell my friends who are always moaning about being dead broke. Now, let me tell you the good things about getting a job. You will always have money to fill that wallet and you’ll always find something to occupy your time. Far out, even raking rubbish is good enough. Just charge a dollar for every piece of rubbish you rake and you’ll be rich. But to be a little bit more realistic, if you don’t want to end raking rubbish, then just ask your nearest aunty if you could work for her or something like that.
Another thing you could do is check out what’s happening in your community. There are heaps of holiday activities that you could participate in. Or you could just give your friends the surprise of their lives and pop up unexpectedly. Sure, they’ll be a bit angry with you, but then they’ll see that you came to their rescue. Happens all the time to me. Hopefully, they don’t catch you in an embarrassing situation (like hanging your undies out on the line).
There are heaps of events that you could attend this week. There’s the Mire Tama coming up. Why don’t you go down there and check it out for yourself? Have some pride in your Kuki roots and support the contestants on Thursday evening. There is also an event across the Banana Court (in that empty space where all those rocks are?!). The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (Yeah, I know it’s a mouthful) There’s going to be activities on how to keep yourselves safe form disaster. The cool thing is, is that if you gather a team of four and you join the fun, you could win some awesome prizes.
So here are just some of the many things you could find yourself doing this holiday. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting off that couch and looking for something to. My advice to you guys is this: If you make your holiday fun, it will be fun. If you make it boring, then it will be boring ra. Don’t go complaining to your parents that you don’t have any money to go shopping, or that there’s no petrol in the bike to take it for a joyride. C’mon kids. You can be more creative than that. -Norma Ngatamariki

Ambassador of the kingdom of Belgium visits the Cook Islands
His Excellency Mr. Patrick Renault, the Ambassador Designate of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Cook Islands will visit from 13 to 22 October 2011 to present his Credentials to the Queen’s Representative, His Excellency Sir Frederick Goodwin KBE at Government House.
The Ambassador is based in Canberra, Australia at the Belgium Embassy.
Ambassador Renault was Professor at the Foreign Relations Institute in Beijing. He joined the Belgium Foreign service in 1987 and has been Ambassador in Canberra, Australia since 2009. He has worked in China, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Belgium and Australia.
During the Ambassador’s visit he will pay courtesy calls on Prime Minister and senior members of Government.
The Cook Islands established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Belgium in 2005.
The Ambassador will be accompanied on this visit by his wife Mrs. Charlotte Daniel and son. ­- Foreign Affairs Media Release

Week 27: Nutritional Program
Kia orana welcome back to another exhausting week on both the Mind & Body Challenge and the Nutritional Program. Exhausting because our daily training sessions has some how beefed up a bit and becoming more intense, an intensity that leaves everyone in pain – and walking a tad funny!
With this week being our last week on the Mind & Body Challenge, we’ve still maintained that we will continue on till December so we’re hoping to look a bit more ‘hotter’ come the xmas parties and as some are travelling overseas to spend the festive season with family, we’re hoping they’ll be able to notice the transformation and the hard-work that goes behind the change.
Despite the length of time we’ve been on the program, we have still managed to maintain our good eating habits. During the week we’ve swapped the heavy fatty foods like burgers, chips, and chocolate for things like ‘raw-fish, beef wraps, salads and fruits’ and have still continued on with drinking ‘water’ that’s now graced our tables in replace of ‘V’, ‘Mother’, Coke and all the other unhealthy drinks, we’ve even switched milk, we’ve now taken on ‘skim-milk’ which took a while to get use to but we’ve done it.
We’ve also continued taking our daily dosage of ‘fat burning tea’ which is a good combination with the nutritional shake, which has boosted our metabolism and energy levels. People have complimented us seeing us now, compared to what we looked before joining. We now have much healthier looking skin, and just generally feel 200% better than we did 28-weeks ago!
Well to our weigh-in stats from last Saturday, I personally managed to lose the 1.5kg which sounds good but really isn’t. On returning from my RWC weekend, I managed to gain 2.5kg’s, but after weighing myself today (Wednesday), I’ve managed to go back to my weight I was when I left, some of our team have done well, its been a pleasure to have been working with such a wonderful team like TEAM DETERMINATORS, while most of us aren’t fit, the determination is there and we have a ‘don’t give up attitude’ an attitude and state of mind we’ve managed to maintain for 12-weeks.
So next week we’ll bring you an update of how our last weigh-in goes this week and who we’ve nominated from Team Determinators for the 2011 M&B INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION! Till then, Ka Kite!

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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