HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 597: 05 January 2012

News in Brief

CIP: Hanging their own out to dry
Now that we have burst through into the New Year, we should all aspire to fulfil our resolutions. Mostly, people forget their resolutions very quickly but get on with their lives anyway. That is what the Opposition Democratic Party is planning; convince you that it has great policies and it will be a better Government than the Cook Islands Party.
Let’s kick off 2012 with this question. What is the truth behind the so called resignation of CIP staunch worker George Turia? We heard recently that he had resigned from his position of Chief Executive Officer for Minister Teina Bishop’s ministerial office.
George Turia is a political appointee and that’s usually the form of reward for political animals (meaning that he is an uncompromising soldier for the CIP). But has he been victimised because of certain principles that he stood for? Did these principles rub the Prime Minister the wrong way? And did he go too far in being too much of an “aggaravation” for the CIP because he has become a threat by simply pointing out (internally) that the Government has veered away dramatically from its plans it campaigned on?
The unofficial explanation given is that he had been responsible for leaking information to the media, in particular the Pitt Media Group. Well, that does not really stack up because nothing is confidential in the Cook Islands. Previous Governments, including the Democratic Party has unsuccessfully tried to muzzle leaks. That’s because, inside the network are Heads of Ministries and their staff, other political appointees, gossip heads and it’s a sure bet before the ink dries up on a decision by Cabinet or the PM – every Tomu, Tama, Pita and Mere knows the full details.
Well, the truth is much more personal than that. For some time, there’s been bad blood between the PM and George. So the latter has to go because the boss is unhappy. Mind you, George has been a thorn on the side of the CIP hierarchy. He has an outstanding damages claim in court against the Deputy Prime Minister. He plans to sue on this one. It goes to say that he knows the rot and decay in the CIP, which the leadership and “yes people” are covering up very well.
George Turia and I are political enemies but I feel for him. The man has a mortgage and young children to care for and put thorough school and he is a Cook Islander who gave up a good career in New Zealand to come home to work. He is a son return home as written by Samoan author Albert Wendt in his classic novel “Sons for the Return Home”.
But, here’s the bottom line. All is not well in the CIP camp. Fractures are getting bigger, several potential’s vying and scheming to topple the PM, the CIP caucus is unhappy and disappointed. The PM in placing his trust only in his Minister of Finance is losing allies and worst of all is failing to keep his enemies much closer to him. Nek Minnit, hang them out to dry. Sad. -Deputy leader of the Democratic Party, Wilkie Rasmussen

Heading for reform
The reason why the public service must be reformed is simple.
Simple that is for most taxpayers employed in the private sector.
Simple arithmetic will tell you that for a small country of less than 18,000 people, government is costing the taxpayer too much to run in its present form. So put simply, if reform does not happen, government will find itself running out of money.
The money to run government comes from taxpayers and people who purchase goods and services and apply for permits and licenses.
If government gets any bigger than it is now, pressure will fall on the small number of taxpayers to pay more. We saw what happened when government thought it had a $2 million deficit. Government introduced a special withholding tax to cover the shortfall. That caused a big public outcry. Now it seems government got its sums wrong and actually expects a surplus. Did government immediately cancel the special tax? No.
Taxpayers include public servants but public servants as a rule, do not generate money. They spend it. For a public servant to get any money, someone else must first generate the money. That’s the private sector and its taxpayers.
To say that government can maintain the public service as is, because tourism is expanding and through the extra money tourism is bringing in, public servants can keep on getting paid is foolish.
The extra money being generated by the rise in tourism is much needed for new infrastructure and maintaining existing essential services like water, roads, school buildings, hospital services.
To use this money on wages for public servants would be a misuse of funds.
If there is no extra money for maintaining essential services, then government will have no option but to start user pays for items like waste management, water supply and roading.
Do we want to go down the “user pays” road?
It is the private sector that creates the wealth not government. The less money government spends on itself in the form of wages for public servants, the more money there will be to spend on what the taxpayer wants done. Like getting better roads, cleaner water, better schools. For example how much longer must parents raise money for essential items for schools by running raffles and sausage sizzles?
At the moment, so much money is spent on public service wages that government has no option but to seek overseas funds to upgrade our roads and water, our harbours and power generation, our schools and hospitals.
Do we want to become known as “donor bludgers?”
No. We want to be able to stand on our own two feet and be in a position to provide help to others.
If and when we are able to mine our nodules and build up tremendous wealth, then we can become a donor to help our neighbours.
When public service staff numbers were cut from 3,000 to 1,500 in 1996, it was estimated that about 5,000 people left for overseas. Since then, the staff numbers have grown by nearly another 400. To say we should not cut staff numbers for fear many will leave as in 1996, is to play on people’s emotions. Of course some will leave. It’s their legal right to do so but don’t forget since 1996, while public service numbers were slowly increasing again, people were leaving anyway. Right now the population is under 18,000. Even if public servant numbers are not cut, people will still leave.
Government cannot stop people from going but perhaps less people will go if government carries out some reforms and helps lessen the burden on the private sector taxpayer.
This Cook Islands Party (CIP) led government has waited a long time to govern. At the last election, the people gave it a clear mandate for the reforms set out in its manifesto (including public sector reform) by handing the CIP a healthy majority to push their agenda through. If government now starts to falter or stall on its promises, it stands to lose the people’s confidence and trust and worst of all, end up a one term government. -Charles Pitt

Worth the effort
This mango tree by Triad’s petrol station on the corner of Moss Road in Tutakimoa, must be worth the effort that has gone into ensuring its preservation. Its mangoes must be delicious. The tree should also do its part in reducing CO2 emmissions exhaled by staff working inside the building. Perhaps the owners could seek carbon credits for trading. Credit should also go to the owners for retention of the existing environment

Outstanding Cook Islanders honoured

Honoured by the Queen in her 2012 New Year’s honours was the much respected and loved Pauline Margaret Rakera Taripo who is also known as Makea Karika Margaret Ariki, who was bestowed with the title of Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) which is the second highest rank in this Order that was established in 1917. It is a first for a Cook Islander. Karika was previously awarded a MBE in the 1993 New Year’s honours. Her DBE is for services to the public and community. Karika has had a distinguished career in local and national government through the Legislative Assembly prior to self government and later the House of Ariki where she was President for two terms. She also excelled in sport especially tennis and athletics and has served as Patroness on local community organizations. She was a founding member of the Girl Guides.

Former Commissioner of Police, Pastor Tevai-Bobby- Matapo was honoured with an OBE by the Queen for public and community service. Matapo is General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God (AOG) Church. Matapo has made an outstanding contribution to public service as a Police Officer and educationalist. He is the coordinator of post graduate studies programmes at the USP, a co-founder and Chairman of the Imanuela Akatemia AOG School Board of Trustees, Chair of the USP Cook Islands Advisory Board and Chair of the Ministry of Education Advisory Board. A keen sportsman, he is a former national rugby rep.

Tokomaru Bay group vow to return
Tokomaru Bay Maori tere party performing a kapa rima for their hosts, Kainuku Kapiriterangi Ariki, Ui Rangatira and the Ekalesia of the CICC church in Ngatangiia. The Tokomaru people were in the Cook Islands to take part in the celebrations for the new Pa Ariki palace in Mata o te Enua in Turangi held on 15 December 2011. The Tokomaru group arrived earlier in the week and were hosted by the Turangi people on Sunday and were hosted by Pa Ariki, Ui Rangatira and Ekalesia and then each night by the villages of Turangi, Avana and Muri and then Kainuku and her people on the final night. The Tokomaru people said they were keen to reciprocate the visit by the Ui Ariki and Aronga Mana on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Hono Ki Rarotonga tere party in 2009. That visit was a recreation by a new generation of the 1934 visit to the Tokomaru Bay marae by the Ui Ariki and prominent Rangatira and Mataiapo of that era in a delegation led by Makea Nui Tinirau Ariki. The group thoroughly enjoyed their stay and have vowed to return to our shores.-Noeline Browne

New Years!
Staying up until 12 in the morning is real challenging, especially if you haven’t had a wink of sleep since the day before. I was really dog-tired, but I wasn’t going to miss the New Years Countdown just because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I watched anxiously at my wall clock, trying to convince myself to be patient for a while longer. Then, the magic moment arrived. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one…Happy New Years! In truth, it didn’t really feel any difference, but who cares? It was 2012, the beginning of the New Year!
I stayed up until four that morning, which, I soon found out, was a big mistake. I was still asleep when my aunty Kath paid me a visit and asked if I wanted to go to the beach with them. I just couldn’t drag myself off of my bed. The next thing I remember was waking up to a gray sky. I looked outside and thought, Gah, this is ugly. It was the Christmas weather all over again, which sucked with a capital S. I was actually looking forward to spending my New Years outdoors.
Mum had this crazy idea that we should do some washing. I was like “Mum, have you gone mental?! Doing laundry on New Years?” I must’ve gotten my point across, because she put the washing basket away. Crazy woman. Dad wanted to get drunk straight away, but Mum and I still had the cooking to do, so he had to wait for a little while. With each passing moment, he grew restless, and he told my mum to leave the cooking for me to do and come and serve him his beer. There’s another crazy person in the household.
In the end, Mum never left the stove, because she didn’t trust me with the cooking. I didn’t really blame her. 90% of what I cook turns out to be burnt or under-cooked. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to learn how to cook meals that humans can actually eat, instead of them throwing as pig feed. So I watched as my mum worked wonders in the kitchen. New Year’s was less stressful than Christmas, as I didn’t do anything much to help my mum. (Well, it’s not like she needed my help anyway)
The food was cooked, the dinner table was set and I was ready to dig in. Nek minnit, my mum sends me outside and tells me not to come back until I’ve found a bunch of bananas’. I’m like, #@$^&*!! I went out and I didn’t return until 20 minutes later and all I had to show were four measly bananas. (One of them was rotten, so I gave that one to my mum and hoped that she’d eat it) After our feast, my parents went straight to the drinking. Mum had bought a whole carton of Stein as a present for my dad (she did the same thing for Christmas. Lucky dude.) I just went inside and sacrificed all of my credit just to text my friends and family to wish them a Happy New Year. -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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