HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 587: 2 November 2011

News Briefs

Are the NSDP & the Budget singing in tune?

While working my way through the budget consultation document I have taken a closer look at the draft of the national sustainable development plan 2011-2015 (NSDP). I would like to take this opportunity to thank Liz Koteka of OPM for briefing my team on the document last week.
The NSDP is the road map that sets out the Cook Islands government medium term objectives. It was designed to link Te Kaveinga Nui 2020 with the annual budget and the work that public servants do each day.
Hallelujah - the CIP government hasn’t undone the good work of the Democratic Party, the public servants, and community groups, who spent thousands of hours to produce Te Kaveinga Nui and the National Sustainable Development Plan 2007-2010. I am particularly happy that the Te One Kura project which I championed is still alive, albeit with no name.
Reading through the updated NSDP I can see we have produced a greater level of analysis and more focused targets based on the data we have been collecting since the first NSDP.
What does worry me as I read through the 60 odd pages is that there is a missing link in there. There is a gap between what the nicely worded NSDP report says and what the current government is doing. There is also a gap between the document and the CIP manifesto. It is as if they are singing from a different song sheet.
For instance, the economic sector strategy talks about sustainable fishing practice, and government sells licenses to foreign boats. Meanwhile, our own fishermen are in the newspapers claiming they are unable to make a reasonable living fishing current fish stocks.
In fact the NSDP writers at OPM haven’t incorporated the findings of the economic taskforce into the updated report. Is the CIP brains trust asleep at the podium? How do they think their $618 million wish list of the Economic Taskforce will make its way into the annual budget?
In the same vein, the harmony is missing in the public service functional review and the NSDP.
I could go on about the big gaps between the bureaucratic talking updated NSDP and the political dialect of the CIP governments “Touring Ministers” but I have a limited space.
What I have to say again is that if the NSDP is going to be taken seriously by anyone, the CIP government need to own it. This means they have to read and understand the document, inject their own policies into the NSDP goals.
Minister Brown now has the big challenge of maintaining the changes to the annual budget process and achieving the NSDP outcomes, but the greater challenge to Minister Brown, will be to get the Touring Ministers to take responsibility for the budget process. This will require more breaks in the touring schedules long enough to read the updated NSDP.
Therefore the challenge to the CIP government is to embrace the NSDP and strengthen it to take care of the needs of the people and the issues facing the community. -Leader of the Opposition, Robert Wigmore.

Commitment to financial transparency
As part of our continued commitment to improving financial transparency, the Minister of Finance today released the country’s first quarterly financial report
The Government is determined to improve financial transparency. Given that in the past the finalisation of Crown Accounts has been unacceptably late or not provided at all - additional resources have now been provided to the Ministry of Finance and Expenditure to rectify this situation.
The publishing of this quarterly statement is a further milestone in improving our overall budget and financial credibility and will be followed on 1 December 2011 by the publication of a Budget Policy Statement.
As the title implies, this is the first quarter statement, the next quarter to be published in February will give us much more information which we can draw on to make comparisons and better judge our position.
The quarterly statement provides a snapshot of where we are with our expenditure – it is a balance sheet of our loans and debt. Overall the Government is pleased with the country’s position.
We anticipated at budget time that we would have a deficit of $-3.565 million for the quarter. We are pleased it has come in quite lower at $748,000 due to improved revenue and lower expenditure.
The report shows that results have been pleasing on the Air New Zealand Sydney route with lesser than expected results for the LA route. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management believes at this stage the underwrite may come in on budget.
Again this is very early in the piece and we are mindful of increasing fuel costs and the impact of current financial woes in Europe that have had an impact on tourist numbers from Europe.
It is possible there will be a Supplementary Budget in February for some items, including funds for operations related to the Pacific Forum. We are making every effort to minimise the Supplementary Budget and are hopeful of getting it presented to Parliament in February 2011.
The Minister of Finance advises that our net debt levels are around 17 per cent of GDP, and that we have a fiscal strategy of maintaining our debt to GDP ratio at around 35 per cent. That is a ratio we wish to maintain.
By all accounts we have the ability to take on more debt and are in a good position to service it adequately – but we only want to do this in areas that are a priority such as water upgrades and renewable energy – in other words investment in our country’s infrastructure, where the return outweighs the costs.
The Quarterly Financial Report prepared by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management is available on www.mfem.gov.ck- Prime Minister Hon Henry Puna

Atiu power down for 12 hours
A report was received on Wednesday morning from an Atiu resident visiting Rarotonga that there had been a power outage on Atiu when the two old power generators failed.
It was reported to the Herald that power was out for 12 hours on Tuesday and restored at about 4pm.
The Herald contacted and spoke to Atiu Island Secretary Ina Mokoroa on Wednesday morning about the outage. He confirmed the power shut down occurred at 6am Tuesday so repairs could be done. The problem was that no power was getting from the alternator to the panel. Power was restored at 6pm said Mokoroa.
Mokoroa confirmed that last week, a team from CIIC led by Danny Numa traveled to Atiu to inspect the new power house building which has been erected around the existing old generators.
He said next Wednesday a group of three from CIIC will arrive for the official hand over of the building.
Both old generators are supposed to be replaced by new generators and provision has apparently been made in the Budget for this.
The delay in installing the new generators is a concern as it is not the first time both old generators have failed.
The outages are not satisfactory from a tourism point of view as it does not impress visitors. - Charles Pitt

Ariki apologises
At Government House on Tuesday, Vaeruarangi Ariki of Aitutaki presented his letter of apology to the Queen‘s Representative, Sir Frederick Goodwin, for his actions against the government of the Cook Islands. In 2009 the Amuri Ariki was involved in the protest that claimed sovereignty by proclamation over the nation along with many other Ui Ariki members. The apology was sought by the previous government as a condition to being re-admitted to the House of Ariki. Vaeruarangi who read out the proclamation at Taputapuatea, was one of only two remaining Ariki to apologize, the other is Tararo Ariki Maeva Karati who is yet to make his apology.

Renewable Energy - Proven, or fringe technology?

We can obtain energy from dozens of different sources. We have become very used to burning diesel to make electricity, both in Rarotonga and in the Pa Enua. And we’re hearing all the time about solar and wind energy, and starting to use these technologies on a large scale.
But what else is there that we can use? Magazines, and internet articles, are full of new and wonderful ‘eco’ technologies that claim to be the answer to all our energy needs.
So how do we sort out the wheat from the chaff?
Some things work very well, and we can use them right now.
Some technologies work well, but wouldn’t work in the Cook Islands
Some require specific geographical features.
Some need a particular climate.
Some work perfectly well, but are too expensive to be economic.
Some work well in a laboratory, but don’t seem to survive real world conditions.
And some just don’t work.
So what’s out there?
PV Solar panels – these work really well, are reliable, require practically no maintenance, have no moving parts, and have been proven for decades in very harsh conditions. A winner.
Wind turbines – these work well also, and can produce energy during bad weather, complementing PV Solar. However, they have moving parts, need maintenance, need to be dropped for cyclones, need good wind, and some of them are noisy. For the Cook Islands, probably a second choice after PV Solar.
Hydro-electricity. This is a well proven technology, and works perfectly well if you have a reliable flow of water. One or two streams in Rarotonga would produce viable amounts of energy for modest hydro systems, but they won’t contribute a major amount to the grid.
Waste-to-energy is a well proven option, which gets rid of solid waste, and converts it to energy. Proven, and worth investigating for small to medium scale.
Bio-fuel – can work well, and will run in conventional engines. But if we have to grow the stuff, do we have the land and the manpower? And if we import it, how much will it cost?
And then we start getting into the more doubtful areas........
Wave energy – in theory, is a great resource, but the conversion of the kinetic energy in waves to useful electricity is difficult in the extreme. Lots of experiments have been done, and many pilot projects are on test, but nothing proven is available off the shelf.
Tidal energy- also works well, but really needs a large estuary, and much higher tides than we have. It’s not going to happen here any time soon.
Geothermal energy – works brilliantly if you have access to a geothermal vent, or can drill into one. Not here.
Undersea turbines – look great on paper, or in model form, and might be viable one day. They are just not commercially available today.
Solar thermal energy – works brilliantly to heat our water at home. In countries with desert conditions, it can be used to make steam to run turbine generators, and is very cost effective. Unfortunately we have too much cloud in this area to make solar thermal a viable technology.
Solar ponds –a variation of the same concept – similarly need 90% clear sky to be workable.
OTEC – ocean thermal energy conversion – uses the temperature gradient between sea surface temperature, and that at the bottom of the ocean, to run ammonia turbines. This actually works, but is fiercely expensive to set up, and is subject to all the problems of salt corrosion, fouling, and cyclones.
Nuclear fusion – is what powers the sun, and works more efficiently than anything else we know. The trick is getting it to work on earth. The world’s scientists are pouring millions into researching this technology, and it will change the world if it can be made to work safely and economically.
Nuclear fission – works really well (just ask the Chernobyl residents), but not in my back yard thank you very much.
And then we’re into the fringe areas.....
Solar satellites . . would work well if it was easy to launch a squillion tonnes of solar panels into orbit, a use a multi-gigawatt microwave beam as an extension cord.
Cold fusion....is supposed to be nuclear fusion in a test tube. If it worked, the proponents would be billionaires, and there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of that.
Zero-point energy.. ..uses some clever particle physics concepts, and attempts to show you can get something for nothing. This is the modern day “perpetual motion machine” that attempted to dupe investors in past eras. Pass.
Lots of people have got lots of work to do to make most of these technologies as reliable as what we know and trust.
Meanwhile, I’m going to install some solar panels.

My fun day at school
Usually your parents would say school is about learning and becoming a smart person and yada,yada,yada.I don’t blame them, but I think school is also about hanging out with your friends and doing fun stuff . For example, at school on Friday, it was Kia orana day. I didn’t know, luckily I had a flower singlet underneath my uniform, so I took my school uniform off and shoved it into my bag carelessly. First we had social science. All the girls like our social science teacher (Mr Papatua). We all think he’s a nice teacher. Then we had break, I hung out with my friends (Serena, Siana and Selane) for a little while then I played handball with my other friends, then we had Maori till next break. I then played handball again with my friends. Then we had sport (Volleyball) at the back of the school. Next thing you know the bell rang for all of us to go back to class and say our prayer so we all can go home. - Mareva Cameron (11 years old)

Cowboys Corner

Welcome to “Cowboys Corner”, last weekend was the last of preparation games for the International sevens in Heaven tournament which starts tomorrow at the BCI Stadium. The Islands Car & Bike Hire Cowboys are looking forward to the tournament. It has taken coach Rob Heather Snr four weeks to pull together a team of 15 players and although only 12 will represent the Cowboys, 3 are on standby in the event a player in the 12 man squad is unable to make a start this Thursday.
Over the last 4 weeks, many potential 7’s players from Arorangi have gone through the “hard yards” to make the squad. All showed potential however some have had to step back because of injury but remained to assist young players coming through. These players will be a part of the support team and will take up the responsibilities of strapping, ice, water and preparing the boys for games during the tournament. We thank all those who showed loyalty.
Team admin are now in the last phases of preparing the squad. The gears are ready, the boys are ready, the support team and their resources are ready and the draw is set...now we wait for Thursday.
The Island Car & Bike Hire Cowboys are in pool A with General Transport Tabusoro, College Rifles and Top Kopz. Avatiu Rugby, Rebels, Araura Enua and Te Ara Wheke make up Pool B. Pool C is made up of Titikaveka Titans, Island Hopper Tama Toa United, Ngatangiia/ Matavera Flying Dragons and Porirua Magic. The final Pool for the men’s...Pool D consists of Tauae Bulls, Vikings, All Stars and Atiu Warriors.
In the women’s tournament, our sisters...T&M Crushers are in group 2 with Titikaveka Telecom Titans and Rebels while group 1 consists of College Rifles, Hastings Rugby & Sports and Avatiu Motor Centre Eels.
This is the biggest 7’s rugby tournament in the Cook Islands and it starts this Thursday at the BCI Stadium at 2:00pm with the team march in front of the grandstand area for the official opening. The fun will start with the novelty challenges with cash prizes up for grabs. The first game will kick off at 4:00pm. We have provided Thursday and Friday’s draw for you.
This week, we say a big thank you to Richard & Karyn Vinsen and the team at Island Car & Bike Hire for their continuous support of the Cowboys. Best of luck to the IC&BH Cowboys and the T&M Crushers this week.

Players urged to wear mouth guards

Rugby players and all sportspeople involved in contact sports should wear mouth guards.
That’s the advice from Janice Clook, a qualified nurse from the UK, who spends most of her spare time assisting players with sports injuries. Janice is part of the “League Smart” and “Rugby Ready” programme which promotes safety in sport and prevention of sports injuries.
The wearing of mouth guards is not compulsory in the Cook Islands but in New Zealand they have been compulsory in rugby since 1997.
Janice says she has been trying to have mouth guards made compulsory in rugby for the last three years.
It’s a proven fact that mouth guards help to prevent serious injuries.
In NZ, there has been a 50 per cent reduction in dental injuries to rugby players and that’s just during training.
These days it costs less than $10 to purchase a mouth guard for an adult or youth and even less for a junior player. A custom made mouth guard may cost about $30.
Mouth guards reduce the risk of brain trauma, concussion, dental injuries, injuries to the lips, mouth and jaw fractures.
To suffer a brain trauma says Janice, is not only tragic for the player but also those who care for them.
Rugby Union CEO Ben Koteka told the Herald on Tuesday he has also tried to promote the use of mouth guards for the last three years. -Charles Pitt

Nek minnit…

The most embarrassing things that could happen to you at school. One: You trip over in front of the entire school population (but you blame it on the person you were walking next to) Two: You buy something at the canteen, but you purchase it in style, using them “tenetenes’”. Three: The teacher just announces to the whole class that you obtained a “Nearly Achieved” in the simplest subject there is: addition. Yes, my fellow readers, we have been through a whole lot of stuff that we don’t want to admit. The following events may contain some serious graphic detail. Not. Lolz.
My friends and I arrived to school with the ingenious idea of making our very own “Nek Minnit” videos. If you don’t know anything about nek minnit, then what rock have you been living under? Nek minnit is famous for the video of the guy with the bucktooth and how his scooter “took a walk” from the dairy. Watch this on You Tube, and I guarantee, you won’t be able to stop laughing your butt off. So my friends (Ngatokorima and a certain Micracks.lolz.) decided to akamea “nek minnit”. If you get my drift.
So we came up with all these “Nek Minnit” situations in our free periods (when we were supposed to be catching up on our math, but we had finished all our work). We settled a lot of things and in the end; we decided that our ideas must be recorded on a video camera and posted on You Tube for the entire world to see. We thought we were that good. We tried our ideas out on our other friends (Mami, Reny, Robyn, Steph and Jamie) and thought we were going to get a positive response. Nek minnit…all they had to say were words of criticism. So hurtful, sniff, sniff.
We did the nek minnit theme throughout the whole two lunch breaks as well. Those were the best periods of the whole day. Nga cracked a joke and it went like this: I joined a pageant for my country. Nek minnit…I won the pageant and was crowned Miss Ugly. Goshness. This time round, the “criticizers” laughed their butts off and Nga felt proud of herself. Eeewy. Just because she made them laugh doesn’t mean that me and Michael couldn’t. She just got lucky.
And it finally came to the end of the day. We were having a good tome in form class (even though we were supposed to be doing our duties. Well, the class looked clean enough for me.lolz.) My friends started comparing everything we did to the nek minnit theme. It was good fun, a great thing to do besides duties. We all thought we could get away with it. Nek minnit…”Oi, get on with your duties before I put you guys on deans report!” Whoa, what a staunchy guy. But like the angels we are we got straight to it and did our duties. Nek minnit… -Norma Ngatamariki

Week 30: Nutritional Program
Welcome back to another week of nutritional program updates.
Last week was another week of intense training, while others are enjoying eating their burgers, chips and other fatty and high calorie food; instead we’ve continued to sweat it out on the field, up the High Comm hill and in the gym. With this week being the 8th week of hard-core radical workouts, this week it has been stepped up to level 2 meaning 3 words, harder, harder and harder!
As for Team Determinators, we’ll find out this week who wins the Mind & Body Challenge with the prize-giving taking place this Friday at the Edgewater Resort, we’re not sure if our team is in the running for any prizes but we’re just proud that we stuck to the 12-week challenge and have made a lifestyle change not only for ourselves, but for our families too, so really now its just being there to support whoever wins the challenge, as the team who wins worked together as a team they as a team they made a difference.
As for ourselves, we’re just so grateful to Nathan and Lani and the team at Fitness Revolution for their support and guidance during the duration of the Mind & Body Challenge, its initiatives such as this that has made our local people be more conscious of what foods are good and the difference between the good fats and the bad fats, before the program I had heard the word ‘calories’ mentioned all the time but had no idea how this can affect your weight – now every time I pick up food I’m constantly reading the labels to check how much calories it contains and start calculating my calorie intake up in my head.
Well that’s it for us and we’ll give an update on who took out the Mind & Body Challenge as well as the individual prizes and… of course our weigh in stats… cross our fingers its positive!
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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