HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 590: 16 November 2011

Seeking the Brains Trust
It’s a busy time of year. All hands are on deck to host Rugby Seven’s & Vaka Eiva. A record number of weddings held this month.
I raise these events for a reason. They make the difference between a good month and a great month for business. They have more local participation and the benefits are spread across the community.
This type of private sector activity brings me to the CIP Government’s Economic Taskforce Report. I stand by my earlier comments that it is a waste of tax payer money engineered by a CIP brains trust with little exposure or understanding of the private sector.
The $618 million interim price tag on the economic task force report will be paid by business owners and their employees, pensioners and students through higher taxes, lower real incomes and poorer services.
The task force report fails on depopulation. People leave because wages are low, living costs are high, standards of health, education and opportunities are poor compared to Australia.
We do not need a census to know Cook Islanders are leaving the country in numbers. We do not need another report to find out why people are leaving, and we do not need another ridiculous wish list.
Did Elvis Puna and the Touring Ministers bothered to read the task force report, the national sustainable development plan (“NSDP”), or the 2011/12 budget? Does anyone in the CIP brains trust bother to make sure that the reports are singing in tune?
I am going through page after page of this economic taskforce section of the budget consultation report. The taskforce wish list reads like a gift registry of a bride who isn’t planning on a wedding day.
Still smarting from the Brown Tax on my latest bank statement, I was riri to read the section of the report on the financial services sector. The short/medium term initiative 7. said – “Encourage a savings based economy and capital inflows by making interest tax-free for non-residents in the domestic economy.”
Oh right, so while locals pay the Brown Tax, foreigners are going to rush to take advantage of our tax free interest rates. I can imagine the headlines – sell USD treasury notes and deposit in CKI banks.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the medium/long term initiative 6. reads - “Provide tax incentives to encourage a dramatic increase in local savings.”
Here’s a thought – how about removing the Brown Tax – think about the dramatic increase in local savings by having savers saving their savings.
And here’s the kicker while we wait for the CIP to take action – our private sector keeps working. On Friday night we celebrated the Cook Islands Tourism Awards and some great businesses run by excellent people were honored. Any business that can stay afloat in these tough times deserves a gold medal. Last weekend we had another successful International Rugby Seven’s tournament and next week we host the 2011 Vaka Eiva, we can smell the success even before its begun.
Our private sector is already walking the talk. Where is our CIP brains trust? When are they going to play a tune in step with their own harmony? -Leader of the Opposition, Robert Wigmore

Meeting the NCD threat
Monday 14th November was World Diabetes day and I take this opportunity to join with the Minister of Health to congratulate those who volunteered to have their weight, height, blood pressure and blood sugar levels checked.
We now have hard-hitting evidence that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – if not addressed – stand to threaten the very survival of our people.
Also called lifestyle diseases NCDs include heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, respiratory disease and cancer – which have all been growing at break neck speed and are responsible for three quarters of all deaths in the Pacific and the leading cause of death in the Cook Islands.
Risk factors that contribute to NCDs include obesity, smoking, excessive drinking, lack of physical exercise and poor diet.
The national STEPS Report released by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation earlier this year is sober reading for all Cook Islanders.
The report tells us that over three out of four (75.3%) of Cook Islanders did little exercise; four out of five(88.5%) were overweight; nearly half (43.9%) were smokers; most of us (81.8%) failed to eat proper servings of fruit and vegetables; nearly one out of four (23.6%) of the population was diabetic and the majority of us have high blood cholesterol levels (75.2%).
A majority of our population (76.6%) is at high risk of NCD’s especially those people aged between 45-64 years
Noted as one of the top global threats to economic development, the crisis stands to also undermine the future economic development of our country with NCDs adversely affecting the four main factors of economic growth: labour supply, productivity, investment, and education.
Though the STEPS report tells us we have much work to do, it is a milestone as it provides the information we need to address the escalating issue of NCD and their risk factors.
At the Pacific Islands Forum, leaders made a call for a ‘whole of government and whole of society approach’. This was deemed both timely and crucial as most of the risk factors for NCDs lie outside of the health sector - as do most of the solutions.
The war against NCDs needs to be fought at the individual, family, community, whole of government and the whole of society level.
That is why we have in place an NCD strategy and action plan that focuses on our risk factors – tobacco, alcohol, healthy eating and physical activity as well as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The health checks held this week are part of the action plan to raise awareness of the risks we face and to encourage lifestyle changes – getting more exercise and eating healthier foods. Let us work at getting our obesity levels down. Research has shown that reducing our weight by as little as 5-10% will reduce our risk of NCD.
The war against NCDs needs the vision of community and government leaders, the support and involvement of families, employers, schools, churches, sports clubs and wider society.
The crisis has been declared and now we must take up the challenge. Let’s all do our bit. -Prime Minister, Hon Henry Puna

Pleased with rapid take up of solar capacity
Te Aponga Uira’s net-metering policy to encourage the uptake of renewable energy has succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. The capacity of the Rarotonga grid system to connect embedded solar PV installations is close to being fully utilised as a result of the applications being received and approved by Te Aponga Uira. It is estimated that within the next two months, TAU will have approved the connection of the optimum level of grid-tied installations for solar power that best maintains the required levels of safety and stability of the distribution network.
The full capacity of the installations tied to the grid will represent about 6% of Rarotonga’s current energy needs. The benefits are that Te Aponga’s fuel consumption is expected to reduce by 430,000 litres per year, and greenhouse gas emissions will drop by approximately one million kilograms of carbon dioxide per year also.
Once the net-metering capacity is saturated, there are still other opportunities and solutions for those wanting to invest in solar panel systems, which have storage capacity for excess energy. Battery storage will allow consumers to sustain energy savings without placing added pressure on the grid. Alternatively, off-grid and direct-to-load systems are feasible options to pursue.
The underlying interest for TAU in managing the embedded installations has been their growing impact on the grid, especially since 2009 when the net-metering incentive was introduced. Load flow fluctuations at the Power Station from the changing – and concentrated – rate of solar generation, voltage variations at the user end, and harmonic distortions caused by rapid switching of solar inverters, are just some of the technicalities encountered with grid-tie solar systems. TAU has been managing a grid-tied load ceiling on the distribution network of 600kW to keep it stable, and pushing beyond this level would not be prudent.
The current policy allows each net-metered installation to contribute up to 2kW of energy to the grid. Credits for exported energy to the grid are accumulated over 12 months for customers, who have TAU-approved installations. It is therefore recommended that customers consult with TAU before investing in solar panel systems so as to determine their technical requirements and the conditions involved with grid- tie connections.
Te Aponga is undertaking several investments that will allow further renewable energy uptake:
Upgrades to Power Station engine controls and governors will allow faster response to the intermittent nature of distributed renewable energy generation.
Engineering and feasibility studies for grid-scale storage are expected to produce plans to allow Rarotonga to accept very much more intermittent renewable energy, on the way to our goal of ultimately being 100% self-sufficient.
- Te Aponga Uira Media Release

Power Station Cooling Towers to be replaced
Te Aponga Uira will be replacing the two cooling towers for three of its generators at the Avatiu Power Station. The two cooling towers (pic) service three old engines, which pre-date the more modern radiator-cooled generators.
This upgrade project is necessary because of the aged condition of the cooling towers, which were installed at the time that the Power Station was established in the Valley during the 1970s. Two of the generators (No. 4 and 5) requiring cooling under this system date back to the 1950s – to a time when they were housed in the original Power Station, at Tutakimoa. The third generator (No. 3) dates from 1989.
Tenders will soon be sought by TAU for the design and installation of the two new towers to replace the existing ones. The project is valued in the vicinity of $500,000.

Caretakers back
Returning to Rarotonga last Thursday aboard the fishing vessel Matira, were Suwarrow Park Rangers, James Mataa and John Treigo.
It is the practice to remove the Caretakers with the onset of the cyclone season starting November 1st.
The Herald spoke to the pair about their time on Suwarrow.
With 134 yachts docking in Suwarrow in the last six months, they had their hands full taking tourist sightseeing, to enjoy the beautiful wildlife.
“It was a very good season in Suwarrow,” said James,” I enjoyed seeing the flush growth of the vegetation and wildlife everyday.”
The pair had been on Suwarrow since 26 May and enjoyed what Suwarrow had to offer. “I hope our Government will never lift the No Fishing ban there, everything there is just beautiful and lush. The island is visited by many sea creatures, turtles, whales, dolphins and so much more, it was very beautiful,” said John.
When asked if there wwere any problems with any of the boaties James said,“ Only one man created trouble, in which case we had to evict him from the island.”
And though these island boys love being back with their families they are clearly missing the life of Suwarrow. “I didn’t want to come back; I really loved that place, being with nature and all, you never go hungry with all the crayfish, coconut crabs, fresh fish and beautiful yummy paua around,” commented John Triego.
Both said they would like to re-apply for the position next season. -Tiare Ponini

Major internet fault disrupts clients
At approximately 10:00am yesterday Telecom experienced a major internet fault with its Authentication Server. Thankfully all customers who were already connected were not affected and continued without service interruption. The type of fault meant that customers trying to connect or reconnect to the internet after 10:00am were unable to obtain authentication to access the internet. The authentication server was repaired by technicians and services were restored by 4:00pm yesterday. There have been a number of unrelated equipment and satellite faults over the past 6 weeks that have caused disruption to normal services. Telecom’s Chief Technical Officer Rob McFadzien explains that his team have been working hard to identify and resolve these service disruption which, due to the intermittent nature (the fault only happens periodically and not affecting all customers), has been challenging. Telecom’s Sales & Marketing Manager Damien Beddoes explained that in yesterday’s instance, public notifications had to be delivered via radio networks as email was also affected. Beddoes also encouraged customers to call Telecom when experiencing faults as not all internet faults can easily be detected. We apologise to our customers for these recent disruptions and thank them for their patience as we’ve worked to resolve the issues, and we continue to closely monitor the services to ensure normal operations for our customers.- Telecom CI media release

Avatea School Gala raises $21,000

Last Friday Avatea School held their school gala in the hope of raising funds to purchase much needed school supplies and reading material.
The gala, despite Friday’s weather saw plenty of foot traffic throughout the day from students, parents and family, and the wider community looking to support Avatea school in their efforts by sampling plenty of the food stalls selling homemade cakes and baking, bbq plates to raffles. Children were also well entertained with the chance to have their face painted to enjoying a bit of disco dancing in their converted classroom come disco hall, which was a sweltering hit.
Avatea School gala which was a success, largely due to a supporting community, raised a whopping $21, 00 and superseded their original aim by $6,000. A majority of the funds raised will now go towards purchasing much needed reading material and books, particularly within the junior level, to keep their library updated. Students can also look forward to enjoying a new drum set as it has been decided that a portion of the funds will go toward buying the school a set of drums and also supply the students with miniature trophies and some cash prizes for the coming end of year prize giving. -Maria Tanner

Health tips and facts for your pets

Have you got pets? Is your pet constantly scratching? Then it may have fleas and you need to know the basics of how to get rid them and also other pests and diseases that may cause your pets harm.
Check out Cook Islands Pharmacy’s range of pet care products
Kura Tansley, who runs the Cook Islands Pharmacy located behind the Empire Theatre, says they stock most of the medicinal and treatment products your pets and livestock will need if they are to stay healthy.
“To be able to control flea infestation on your pets and in and around your home, you have to know the basic facts then you’ll be able to treat, eradicate and use preventative methods,” said Kura.
Flea facts
Eggs -- Up to 100 eggs are laid by an adult flea on pets.
Larvae -- The larvae feed on organic matter in carpets and soil, and then turn into pupae.
Pupae -- In the pupae case the flea undergoes metamorphosis until it is ready to emerge as an adult.
Adult --- When the adult flea emerges, it must have a blood meal before it can reproduce. From egg to adult, can take as little as 21 days if climatic conditions are optimal like our summer season.
Flea Control program
1. Rid your pets of fleas quickly. Kill the adult fleas before they lay eggs.
2. Provide continuous protection. Continue your flea applications.
3. Prevent fleas breeding in your homes and outside around your home.
Call your nearest pest control man to fog your home, or you can use flea powder or Spray on the area that your pets lie or sleep.
4. For easy regular maintenance ensure that you use the flea applications on your pets and do not wash or allow your dog to go swimming for 4-5days after treatment.
For more information on pet care, call Cook Islands Pharmacy on Ph. 27577. Ask for Kura, Kaue, or Ah-yung. -Tiare Ponini

Tereora College Senior Prize giving
It was a Tuesday that all of the seniors in Tereora College will remember for the rest of their lives. Their prize giving was held in the Princess Anne Hall on the 8th of November. Some of us had decided to wag school on that particular day, but I chose to be a wise girl and attend school, just for the sake of being there. I met my friends under the usual spot (our very own mango tree) and we gambled who would become Dux for Tereora College.
There was no form time in the morning, so we headed straight for the hall. That kind of sped things up a little bit. It was really crowded in the front of the hall. All these girls were really eager to see who got the prizes and who didn’t. I had a fair idea of who was going to get what, because, you know, a girl like me is always informed. When we made our grand entrance into the hall, we saw 6 tables full of these magnificent trophies. We just stared at it in amazement, wishing it was US and not the DRAGONS (a.k.a seniors) who were receiving the prizes. Blah!
We seated ourselves right in front of the door, focussing our attention on the spectacle before us (Liking them big words, eh? Lolz) The ones who were receiving prizes were seated in the top left corner, while their parents (who were beaming with pride, I might add) sat right in the middle of us.
And then the most important part of the day. After some really boring and really LONG speeches, the prizes were finally given out to the students who deserve it. The placings for Year 11 were Komera Murchie (3rd), Hannah Cummings (2nd) and Dave Pokura (1st). That was a really surprising move, as I had expected someone else to get first place, but it was all good. I’m sure that fella deserved it. The placings for Year 12 were Robert Heather (3rd), Maruia Willie (2nd) and James Cargill (1st). I’d say these guys are over-achievers (or maybe that’s the jealous side of me talking. lolz). There was a prize of two laptops, a prize pack which was worth $2000 and a scholarship to Otago University. The placings for Year 13 were Darlayna Engu (3rd), Ricky ??? (2nd) and (this is when the whole school held their breath) the Dux for Tereora College went to…Kara-Lee Hunt! Congratulations, girl! Woo-hoo! Go hard!
After all the screaming, the crying and the noise stopped, everybody cheered for the seniors’ item. There was a song dedicated to Teokotai (which was really sweet) and there was the girls and boys item. The boys rocked the stage with their amazing dance moves and wowed the crowd. The seniors then sang two songs (Glee style. lolz.) and it touched our hearts. The school leavers will take these memories to the grave. -Norma Ngatamariki

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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