HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 591: 23 November 2011

Government news this week

Brown to Busan
Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Hon Mark Brown will join 2000 other world leaders and officials in Busan, South Korea at the end of this month to review global progress in improving the impact and effectiveness of aid and make commitments that set a new agenda for development.
World leaders at the 4th High Level Forum in Busan will examine the opportunities and challenges presented by today’s development landscape. Their aim is to build wide consensus on a new framework to support global development.
“An outcome document from the Forum is expected to set out a consensus encompassing shared principles for more effective partnerships and, in turn, development results,” said Minister Brown. “By uniting behind this consensus, countries and organisations hope to push forward global efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.”
On his way to Busan, Minister Brown will briefly stop in New Zealand to join Prime Minister Hon Henry Puna at a meeting (25 November 2011) with Ambassador Xu Jianguo of the People’s Republic of China. They will discuss Chinese assistance to the Cook Islands, including the 2012 Pacific Islands Forum. Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Jim Gosselin will accompany Minister Brown in New Zealand.
Minister Brown will leave for Busan from New Zealand (27 November 2011) accompanied by the Secretary of Finance, Richard Neves and Aid Management Division Manager, Jim Armistead.
From Busan, Minister Brown will then travel to Trinidad for the Annual Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management (8 December 2011) accompanied by the Director of EMCI, Charles Carlson.
The conference is the region’s premier event on disaster risk management says Minister Brown, “and brings together high-level delegates, government officials, disaster management practitioners, the international development community and the public and private sectors to network, forge partnerships and share the latest research, tools and strategies in disaster management theories, policies and practices.”
Minister Brown said that as an active policy shaper in disaster risk reduction in the Cook Islands the Conference has invited him to be part of a panel comprised of six Ministers and high-level officials to speak on the topic ‘Strategies for Effective Disaster Risk Management Policy and Programming in Small States’.
Mr Carlson will also be a presenter for a conference session on the institutional arrangement that the Cook Islands now has in place as a result of lessons learned from the 2005 five cyclones and Cyclone Pat in Aitutaki last year.
“It is a privilege for myself and Mr Carlson to participate at this conference especially as the Caribbean Institution is so highly regarded in Disaster Risk Management circles,” said Minister Brown.
The objectives of the conference are to:
• identify effective strategies for advancing Disaster Risk Reduction at the policy level; and
• facilitate the exchange of national perspectives on effective strategies for advancing Disaster Risk Reduction
Both Minister Brown and Mr Carlson will return to Rarotonga on Monday 12 December 2011. The UN Development Programme will cover costs for the Minister’s travel to Trinidad.

Polynesians form new group

The Cook Islands has joined seven other Polynesian countries in signing a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Polynesian Sub-Regional Group to protect and promote the traditions, cultures and economic interests of their peoples in the Pacific.
The MOU signing concluded a meeting hosted in Apia of founding members which include the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Tokelau, American Samoa, and French Polynesia.
Prime Minister Hon Henry Puna who attended the meeting said the Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG) recognises the fundamental importance of retaining the identity and heritage of Polynesian countries and people, particularly at a time of inevitable exposure to globalisation and the imperatives of modern economic development.
“Observing the principles of sovereign equality and independence amongst nations, the group will work to ensure a future for Polynesian peoples and countries where cultures, traditions and languages are valued, honoured and protected.”
“It is also a forum for achieving future sustainable economic prosperity, observing democratic values and protecting and defending human rights.”
Prime Minister Puna said the PLG may hold annual meetings at the margins of the yearly Pacific Islands Forum meetings to discuss membership issues, report on cooperation activities between members, and make decisions on current and future activities.
“As well as culture, traditions and languages, the PLG also seeks to encourage mutual support of developmental efforts in areas including but not limited to - transport, environmental conservation, climate change, education, health, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, trade and investment,” he said.
Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi is the first Chair of the PLG, a role that will rotate annually amongst members. Until members decide to set up a permanent office, the Secretariat will rotate with the chair during his/her period of duty.
Prime Minister Puna said the PLG meeting also decided that a state, territory or an indigenous Polynesian population can be invited to become a member or as an observer by a consensus decision of the founding members.

Census starts in the North
Census 2011, which gives a five yearly snapshot of people and households in the Cook Islands gets underway today in the Northern Group Islands.
Te Kukupa set sail yesterday with a Census team and questionnaires for each of the northern islands. It is due to stop first at Palmerston (22/11) Nassau and Pukapuka (24/11) Manihiki (26/11) Rakahanga (28/11) and Penrhyn (30/11). Enumerators on the islands’ will work with the team to distribute, complete and collect the Census forms.
Over the next two weeks enumerators will also begin visiting homes on Rarotonga to deliver and explain the Census forms that must be filled out on Thursday night, 1 December 2011.
A Dwelling Questionnaire - one for every household – must be completed, as well as Personal Questionnaires for each man, woman and child living in a dwelling.
Prime Minister Hon Henry Puna said the Census was one of the most important events carried out on the Cook Islands, and was the only practical way of getting information on how many people there are in the Cook Islands, what they do and how they live.
“The Census assists in planning vital services such as health, education, housing, transport and infrastructure for the country. It also provides information that tells us how our society has changed over time by giving information on the ethnicity, employment, economic activities and income levels of our entire population.”
Responses to Census questions about agriculture, fishing and pearl farming activities will determine those households to also be surveyed for the 2011 Census of Agriculture and Fisheries.
All information collected for the Census remains confidential, with provisional results expected in late December 2011 and more detailed data available at the end of next year.

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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