HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 595: 21 December2011

News in Brief

PM Puna - Green soldier or villain
Question: What the heck is going on?
On the one hand, Prime Minister Henry Puna is going all out to sell the Marine Park concept. And yet, he as Chairman of Cabinet presides over decisions cutting right across what he is championing. For one Cabinet recently approved fishing licenses to the Chinese including 10 purse seining licenses and seventeen “exploratory licenses” has now been issued. This is for sword fish and big eye tuna, so we are told but what’s the damage? Apparently it’s huge but less fish for us, that’s for sure. Another obvious irony is that the PM in going green and in jetting the globe making speeches of our pristine waters is hell-bent on mining our sea beds.
To me he is playing a very dangerous game. He fly’s the flag of the “green soldier” and yet he plots to exploit and possibly destroy the very environment and ecosystems he purports to represent. He simply cannot have it both ways because pretty soon he’s going to be caught in “green politics” and believe me they do not stop at anything. We have witnessed how Greenpeace stalked Japanese whale fishing boats risking lives to stop the killing of whales. I know for sure that Greenpeace is going to target the Cook Islands because of its plans to embark on purse seine fishing. In the Indian Ocean for example, the territories of the Seychelles is falling over themselves in trying to turn back the clock after it gave too much leverage to its former colonial powers such as the British and French to be in its ocean zones.
The Prime Minister is sending out mixed signals to the people of the Cook Islands and to those he wants the Cook Islands to link arms with. Soon, the chickens are going to come home to roost and he’s going to be caught out. It’s better to take a clear position and call a spade a spade instead of being deceptive, misleading and indecisive.
The problem is Henry Puna is trying too hard to be popular and to please everyone – I suppose that rhymes with his showbiz tendencies.
The Demo’s would never do that. Sovereignty of a country is a serious matter. We would build it, strengthen it and get powerful nations to take us seriously. For example, it was largely the efforts and persistence of the Democratic Government that as we did by finally getting Japan to acknowledge the Cook Islands as sovereign nation but in free association with New Zealand.
But the truth of the matter is Henry Puna has been stumped by his own Cabinet. His Ministers and caucus have tied his hands. His Government has this misconception that riches will flow into the Cook Islands from China and aid donors but we all know that there is a cost. They don’t care what the damage is as long as they satisfy their egos that they have for instance delivered for their electorates. That’s the bottom line – it’s not about the nation and that’s what PM Puna is struggling with. He wants to be a global player and in doing so he is neglecting his domestic duties. He is the head of a brood that will shed his blood in an instance because the promises made to win the elections far exceeded reality.
Anyway, it is Xmas on Sunday and on behalf of the Democratic Party I wish everyone safe, merry and enjoyable festive season. -Wilkie Rasmussen, Deputy Leader of the Democratic Party

2012 Te Maeva Nui
On Monday the 19th of December a press conference was held at the Ministry of Culture by the Minister of Cultural Development Hon Teariki Heather and the Secretary of the Ministry of Cultural Development Sonny Williams to launch the official dates of three major projects which will all take place next year.
With the Te Maeva Nui, the House of Ariki and the Pacific Leaders Forum all happening together in a time span of 2 weeks from July to August, 2012 is definitely looking to be a busy year for the organisers and participants of these events.
“We decided that we would release the date for the Te Maeva Nui has we have had a lot of feedback from the public, tourism for marketing and the outer islands,” said Minister of Cultural Development Hon Teariki Heather.
With the Te Maeva Nui taking place from the 26 July, 2012 will definitely be a good year for tourism has there will be a huge amount of publicity for the Te Maeva Nui from the benefit of having the Pacific Forum take place here on the 13th of August.
This year the Ministry of Cultural Development will also be using this year’s festival and the rest as a stepping stone for the big 50th Anniversary for Te Maeva Nui in 2015.
“It should be a good year next year as we’re having all the major teams participating,” said Williams
Williams also say’s “ that though the release of the date this early is not normal, it will definitely be a major factor in this years competition and publicity has everyone will have had more time to prepare.”
Another change will be the split of the float parade and the opening of Te Maeva Nui, with the opening being held on a Thursday and the float parade on the normal day which is a Friday.
Another meeting will take place in January to put in the finishing touches to the programs of all three events. -Tiare Ponini

Signing of the Cook Islands Technical Assistance Fund
On Wednesday at midday the signing of the Cook Islands Technical Assistance Fund (CITAF) took place in the Cabinet Room at the Prime Minister’s Office.
This signifies that the New Zealand Aid Programme will give an amount of $3 million to the Cook Islands Public Service over a period of three years.
The signing was attended by Prime Minister Hon Henry Puna, New Zealand High Commissioner John Carter, Minister of Finance Hon Mark Brown, Public Service Commissioner Navy Epati and Secretary of Finance Richard Neves.
CITAF will be a contestable fund available to any public sector organization and allocated on agreed eligibility and assessment criteria.
The financial aid will ensure that there will be an upgrade in the public sector, particularly in terms of capacity and technical expertise. This money will be distributed among legislators, economics advisors and chartered accountants, in the hope that, with their skills, the Cook Islands will become a sustainable country.
“The need to build technical capabilities is well recognized across the New Zealand Aid Programme in the Cook Islands. Not only will the CITAF bring in highly skilled people in the short-term, but it will also provide training and learning opportunities for Cook Islanders to localize benefits and make them long term,” said John Carter. -Norma Ngatamariki

Party Time!
I was totally in a buzz on Saturday, because CITV and Staircase Restaurant and Bar were having their Christmas parties on the same night. I was trying to figure out which one to attend first? I was debating on which party would have more food. In the end, I went to the Staircase first, because my mum was really persistent. The theme for the party was “Murder Mystery – Dress to kill”. I wasn’t too keen on dressing up in a costume (and neither was my mum) so we just went with our plate of food.
It was a really dead when we arrived on scene. I was a bit disappointed, but as soon as I spotted the Staircase staff, I cheered up a little. These people would make the night interesting, for sure. My mum and I went “backstage” and entered the kitchen of Staircase. Now this is where all the people were at! The staff were hiding in a corner, drinking Steinies and having a laugh. I saw that a few brave people actually dressed up as the theme. One skuxx fella was an Afro wearing Ninja assassin (no names, as I don’t want to embarrass the guys. lolz) and two others were killer surgeons. Gah, what a sight.
Mum and I were given the duty of food preparation. I was thinking to myself, Cooking food during a Christmas Party? Honestly. I was worried that I would get food stains on my brand new dress (which I had bought on the same day) but it was actually a turning point for me, because I got to nibble on a few plates. I wasn’t allowed to go near the pizzas or the salads (the staff feared that I would gobble down all of it.) So I was stuck helping my mum with her infamous sashimi. She even went as far as decorating the plates with lime and wasabi. It was fancy, even if it was just food. You rock, Mum!
A Filipino friend of mine grabbed my hand and led me out towards the dance floor. Oh no! I sat down on the nearest chair before she could drag me out to dance. I knew it was rude of me, but seriously, would you want to dance in front of complete strangers? So my friend (Adele) and I sat down with our glasses of juice (Boring!) and started to chat. Mum had to ruin the atmosphere (Jokes Mum!) when she came over with two cocktails. “Is the other one for me?” I asked jokingly. She just gave me the evils and told me to stick to the juice. Argh, whatever!
I was starting to wonder where all the food was! The table where all the food should be was empty. I guess everybody wanted to get wasted first before they ate. We waited for a ridiculous three hours! What are we waiting for?! I asked myself. People were starting to get rowdy (I was one of them). When I found out that we were awaiting the arrival of Shannon (who had an accident a few months earlier), I curbed my impatience and waited. There were tears and laughs when she arrived and I couldn’t help myself but mention food to the MC. Of course, he announced that it was finally time to eat.
Next stop, CITV. I knew, before I even got there, that the party would have died down. Already, people were half way drunk. I just walked towards the table where all the food was and helped myself. I turned towards the gazebo where some of the “Tweens” were playing drinking games. I even saw some ex-staff amongst the party-goers. Some had already gapped it to town. Oh well.
All and all, it was a night of fun and celebration. -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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