HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 594: 14 December2011

News in Brief

PM Puna – Captain “Parai pata” (Sweet talker)
As explained in the last column, I write this column in the absence of the Leader of the Democratic Party and will do so until he gets back.
Prime Minister Henry Puna holds himself out as a clever bloke but everyone else has found him out to be a sweet-talker and no action man. He has one main ambition and that’s to travel and circumvent the world probably 100 times before he gets thrown out.
Many would agree with me that his latest performance in Parliament was woeful, arrogant and almost immoral. It showed disregard for the taxpayers of this country. The MP from Manihiki (where he should be travelling to heal his electorate’s growing rejection of him) dodged, bobbed and weaved his way out of questions raised by the Democratic Party on the Cook Islands Party manifesto promises. Simple questions requiring simple answers. One would expect that he knows what’s going on within his Government. But question after question on the country’s finances as his party pledged to do, he failed to answer. Instead he smiled, joked, parai pata and deferred them to the Minister of Finance, still globetrotting at that stage. Is this the type of leadership voters expected a year ago? We don’t think so.
On a very important matter, he slipped badly when he said those over 70 years will get $400 a week. It was a sour note to his Party because that was simply a lie and a poor attempt to sweet-talk his way out. The promise was for $400 a fortnight for those over 70 years old. Well, it’s not going to happen before Christmas because Elvis Puna ain’t wearing the Santa red suit singing merrily with the bag of goodies. Instead he took off to Abu Dhabi before Parliament ended. For what, wheez, koai ti kite?
We don’t have to be rocket scientists to work out that the $600,000 in surplus estimated for the 2012/13 year is not going to foot the $5 million price tag on the pension increase. That’s because there is too much superficial spending by the Government for unnecessary and trivial things.
The true fact is, it was the Democratic Party Government that hiked the pension from $120 a fortnight (as set by the Papa Geoff Henry government, ages ago) to $200. It was also the Democratic Government that introduced the $50 bonus payments and paid them every year. No delays or deflections. And we would keep it up had we been in office.
Our track record shows we care about the elderly and do what we say. To make things worse, the Minister of Finance Pepe Mark Brown, said he’s looking at “staggered payments”. What a giveaway that they were not prepared to honour their promise
It is true to say that after being in office for one year this CIP government has still not done anything to distinguish themselves. Lots of announcements, singing and flying first class but zilt. No wonder the people of this country especially the young are still heading to greener pastures overseas and people are still struggling to pay their mortgages and of course fight off foreclosures by the banks and forced sales. And the business people are crying out for capital injection – but none – PM says, “oh, tourism is doing well”. It just rolled off his tongue that not even a five year old kid will believe him.
It is no surprise that the CIP are heading down the same path that brought about their demise in the 1990’s. The functional review of the public service has indicated down-sizing and cut backs to the public sector. When asked about that, the PM said casually that no-one will lose their jobs but really? Do you trust him? I mean would you buy a used car from him? Leadership these days seems to be shaped and caricaturised by Kata cartoons. The PM has now been immortalized as the “Singing PM” and his troops naturally have to be the Back Up Troubadours”
But while we roll our eyes in Rarotonga at the cacophony of CIP noise, spare a thought for those in the islands of the north who year after year struggle to keep their islands viable. And yet again, promises to have a ship service the Outer Islands from Samoa came up to nothing. A failed declaration once again.
I live in Rarotonga for work, but as a son of Tongareva, my heart is there. I am bound to my people in ways that the Government just doesn’t understand, or even appreciate. It pains me to think of our people and the daily struggles they face and how we should provide effective government for their needs.
There are no surprises there instead they face their daily realities cut away from the rest of the world and this Government ain’t helping one bit. -Leader of the Democratic Party, Wilkie Rasussen

Seeking environment data and information
This week I addressed the Eye on the Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi where a great deal of interest has been generated in our Marine Park Reserve.
The Summit is a chance to explore how globally we can gather and share data and information about the environment – as access to environmental knowledge is vital to sound decisionmaking to protect and invest in our natural assets.
The need for collaboration, information and understanding is greater than ever with water scarcity, food security and climate change requiring solutions that extend political boundaries.
With the current threats to the ocean in mind, one loud key message was top of mind - that it is time to act on a scale that is compatible to the size of the ocean and that we have stewardship of. It is time to understand how we are using and abusing the ocean, time to act, and to act at scale.
In all truth,declaring the Cook Islands Marine Park has been done with very little information to hand because such information is sparse within our islands. Regional and global datasets are often costly to access, spread across a myriad of websites, organizations, peoples and places.
Our Cook Islands Marine Park Steering Committee has the job to seek out information, and identify priority gaps with a view to launching our marine park when we host the 2012 Pacific Leader’s Forum next August.
Early investigations are showing a paucity of information in the Cook Islands, and difficulties getting beyond the silos of fishing, environment, shipping, pollution and other boxes we place ocean use and information in.
This week I challenged the Earth Summit to think about initiatives that bring together in an integrated fashion, information sources for ocean management at scale, and to make them easily and affordably accessible to countries like the Cook Islands.
We need smart information technology we can afford, that not only gives us the picture of ocean conditions in the past and present, but also provides scenario based modelling for the future, and real time monitoring of ocean uses such as fishing.
In September 2010, together with Pacific Forum Leaders, we endorsed a new framework for integrated ocean management, the Pacific Oceanscape. A key focus of the Oceanscape is support to marine managed areas at scale. Increasingly our countries are developing and implementing large scale ocean conservation initiatives, and we face the same set of issues for information access and use. .
My call at the Summit for support for generation of and access to environment data and information wasa call of genuine need for the global community to help meet what is in essence - a voyage of ocean conservation, to realize an increase from less than 1% of protected marine area today to 10% by 2020.
Synthesis of, access to, and generation of new, environmental and societal data and information, is a critical piece of this voyage for us all.
The clock is ticking, and the maths at hand is daunting. The world ocean area 361,000,000 sq km, 10% 36,100,000 assuming 1% in hand (3,610,000) leaves about 32.5 million sq km to secure – more than 30 more Cook Island marine parks. It is a target we must not lose sight of and it is a target we must invest in realizing, including ensuring environmental data and information is there to be used to make these decisions to establish then actively manage such protection.
To go from 1% to 10% protection in nine years is the challenge at hand – a challenge for all those with ocean domain, and a challenge for us all as the collective guardians of the high seas.

Establishing formal Diplomatic ties
In a simple yet meaningful ceremony held at the Embassy of the Philippines in Wellington on Monday, 12 December 2011, the Cook Islands and the Philippines formally established diplomatic relations through the signing of a Joint Communiqué by the Cook Islands High Commissioner H.E. Tekaotiki Matapo and Philippines Ambassador H.E. Virginia H. Benavidez for their respective governments.
The Cook Islands and the Philippines have always maintained friendly relations and have supported each other in many common issues affecting the two countries such as maritime safety and climate change. The establishment of diplomatic ties further cements this friendship and the two countries look forward to deepening the cooperation existing between them. The formal establishment of relations becomes even more relevant and timely as the Cook Islands will be hosting next year’s Pacific Islands Forum and the Philippines is a dialogue partner. This highlights the increasing interaction and connectivity of countries in the global arena.
The Cook Islands hosts a number of Filipino citizens in the professional and service sectors. “The Cook Islands looks forward to increased cooperation and collaboration with the Philippines in a range of areas, both bilaterally and multilaterally,” said High Commissioner Matapo.
“Likewise, the Philippines will continue to build on the strong foundation of friendship and partnership with the Cook Islands in the political, economic, socio-cultural and people-to-people ties and to work hand-in-hand to fulfil our collective goal of peace, progress and prosperity in our part of the world,” Ambassador Benavidez stated.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Heads of Missions of the ASEAN and Pacific Island countries and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand.
The Ministry would like to acknowledge Mr Alan Raga of “My Photograph” for providing the photos.

Gosselin Sisters Album Launch
After an anticipated wait, the Gosselin sisters’ new album is to be released. The launch of the album, entitled ‘Islands I Adore’, will take place this Saturday 17 December at the Punanga Nui Markets from 9am to 10am. Copies of the CD will be available to purchase and those lucky enough may even be able to get their CD signed by the sisters. This album is the first collaboration of sisters Melissa, Engara and Marion, and the three will perform some of their new songs for the launch. If the predictions of eldest sister and seasoned musician Melissa Gosselin are true, then ‘Islands I Adore’ is set to be the sound of summer for 2012.

Keeping the bugs away

Are you being bothered by mosquitoes and other irritating insects? Is your hair slightly going off colour? Well, it’s time you paid a visit to the Cook Islands Pharmacy, located in Tutakimoa, right behind the Empire Theater.
It’s that time of the year, people. Summer is the month of bikinis and sun tanning, but unfortunately, it can be a plaguing season as well. Insects of all kinds are getting ready to move in for the kill, so it would be wise to purchase some insect repellent down at the Cook Islands Pharmacy. They have a wide variety of insect repellents. Their prices will vary, depending on their quality and effectiveness. Although their target market is mainly directed towards tourists, what is stopping the locals from purchasing these items? Insect repellents will certainly come in handy for when you’re working on the taro patch and the mosquitoes just won’t stop biting you. It’s much better than whacking yourself with a kikau leaf, trying to shoo the little buggers away. Some insect repellents work better in the right type of environment. For example, the brand Bushman, will work effectively in areas heavily accumulated with bush. Others are more suited for the beach. Some even double as a sun block! Whatever choice you make, they all do the same thing: Keeps the bugs away.
Hair is another important aspect of a great summer. If your hair isn’t at its best, why don’t you be a bit more adventurous, and dye you’re hair in a lighter or darker shade? It’ll certainly capture the attentions of your friends. Cook Islands Pharmacy has a wide range of dye products, everything from L’Oreal to Schwarzkopf If your hair has streaks of gray or white in it, you should take it as a sign that you need to get yourself a new hairdo. After all, who wants to spend their summer with grey streaks in their hair? Be bold and revamp your hair colour so that everybody’s attention will be focused on you!
Whether it’s insect repellent for the skin or dye for the hair, come on down to Cook Islands Pharmacy, because they have it all! -Norma Ngatamriki

Managing to excel

The Herald talks to an achiever in hospitality management
On Monday the Herald caught up with and spoke to Mihimana Ioapa about her studies at AUT University.
Mihimana left Tereora College two years ago, with ambitions of studying Hospitality Management. Two years later, she has successfully achieved her goal of studying her chosen subject. As her last name suggests, she is the sister of the Mire Tama winner, Heiarii Ioapa. While her sister is exceeding all expectations in her area, Mihimana is, without a doubt, exceeding in hers.
As mentioned earlier, Mihimana is a full-time student at AUT University studying Hospitality Management, a two year course. She didn’t want to work part-time because she felt that the pressure would affect her studies (as she observed from a fellow student’s experience). She feared that she would struggle with maintaining the balance of keeping a job and studying all at the same time. “At this moment, I’d like my studies to be my main focus point,” Mihimana says.
She was recently rewarded for her work ethics and achievements, receiving a prize for her efforts. This was a major stepping stone for Mihimana and she plans to further improve her studies. She returned to Rarotonga last week for the Christmas and New Years holidays and is enjoying her stay (so far). We would all like to wish you luck and all the best in improving your studies! -Norma Ngatamariki

First Day of Freedom
I wake up to a fabulously glorious morning. I look up to the clock and see that the time is 7:00am. What am I DOING, waking up at 7 on the school holidays? I thought to myself. I was just about to close my eyes, when all of a sudden, a dragon’s voice screams in my ear. “What are you still doing in bed? YOU HAVE TEN SECONDS TO GET UP!” Oh man. I forgot that I was working. Yup, that’s right. I said I was working on the first day of the holiday. What a life.
So I had no choice but to settle into the normal morning routine. It was just like going to school, only I get paid for it. I told my mum that I didn’t have to start work until 8:30, but she ignored me. So I trudged out and waited for my “personal driver”, my dad. The guy is such a patient fellow. So, we drove to work on the “Red Mustang”, which is my mother’s pride and joy. Dad is a really impatient driver. On the road, he must’ve overtaken, like, three cars at the same time.
I finally arrive at my workplace (not really excited, to be honest) and waited for someone to unlock the office door. My boss, the one and only Charles Pitt, drove into the car park on his fabulous g-ride nicknamed “The White Bomb” and unlocked the door. I was the very first person who ran into the office. I wanted to be quick so I could use the internet. (Geez, the first thing I did was check up on my Facebook page. I need a life.lolz) I never really thought I’d like the idea of working during my school holiday, but if I’m getting rich, I ain’t complaining.
So the plan was to get at least three stories done by today. Huh, easier said than done. Even though it sounds like a measly number, believe me, it’s hard work just trying to get one story done. I visited a few people and did interviews with them, which made me feel like an accomplished person. But when I came back to the workstation, I got distracted. My Facebook page was just calling out to me and I couldn’t resist checking it. This earned me a dirty look from my boss.
Well, I did manage to get one story done (out of the eight and a half hours I work, only one story was done. That’s really pathetic) and I was working at a snail’s pace. That’s the cool thing about working at CITV. This place is so laid back and you can work at your own pace (But when you have a deadline to meet, of course you’ll have to be a bit quicker than usual) I’ll admit that I spent more than half my time on internet, but I did go out and do something. And that’s how I spent the first day of the school holiday. -Norma Ngatamariki

Strawberry Mania!
On Monday the Herald visited Gordon Murray, more commonly known as “Spud” to the locals, due to his talent for growing potatoes. But like a small minority before him, Gordon has managed to grow strawberries. They may be small says Gordon, but they are sweet. Unfortunately, there were none on hand to taste.
“It’s been a long process,” Gordon quotes, “strawberries aren’t easy to come by in this kind of tropical climate.” He says that although the climate here is quite humid, strawberries have a better chance of thriving in this weather than in the freezing temperatures of the South Island of New Zealand. The life span of a strawberry shoot will not survive the frost, so Gordon tried his luck over here. “In New Zealand, you can’t control the development of frost,” he says. “But over here, you have no such problem. The only thing that needs to be observed is the heat. This can be easily controlled by placing your plants in the shade with regular watering.”
There is no special technique of growing strawberries. You just have to ensure that you have the proper irrigation system, the right compost and a suitable place to put your strawberries. Gordon uses a PVC pipe, with both ends loosely fitted with a small piece of timber. “This ensures that no moisture escapes the soil, but at the same time, you are allowing the water to flow through.” Gordon has placed a pan at the end of each pipe, which collects the water. When the pan is full, he then takes it to the top of each pipe and simply refills them. In that way, no water is lost. As you might have guessed, these particular strawberries are grown hydroponically. He mixes blood and bone into his compost mix, which is said to improve the quality of the soil.
Gordon is one of those people who believes in the saying “You reap what you sow”. After 60 years of experience with planting his own food, you could he’s a bit of an expert when it comes to growing vegetables. “The prices for produce are rising,” he says. “A punnet of strawberries over here costs over ten dollars! It’s times like these when growing your own little vegetable patch could come in handy, especially when the family budget grows a bit tight around the neck.” -Norma Ngatamariki

My Last Day of School

The first thing I did on the last day of school was play hopscotch with my friends, early in the morning. Of course, I kept losing. I’m not that good at it. When someone finally won (by the way, that person was definitely NOT me) we started doing gymnastics, like handstands (I was the only one who could do a handstand), the bridge and that stuff. It was really fun because we were trying to do a handstand walk, but that didn’t work. Then I played volleyball. My team obviously won because I am so tall, they put me in the front. Then the bell rang for lunch. I had Burger King, because one of my nanas’ just recently came back from Brisbane. That was nice. Then the whole school had a water fight. Thank goodness I didn’t get wet but everyone else did. Some of the form students were getting ready to wet some of the teachers, so I ran away from that. After that wild jungle fight, my friend and I walked to the bus stop so we could catch the bus home. -Mareva Cameron

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

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.