HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 597: 05 January 2012

Cook Islands delegates attend Big Oceans Network conference
The count is on for the declaration of the establishment of the Cook Islands Marine Park at the Pacific Forum Leaders conference to be held in Rarotonga in August 2012. This intention to do so by Prime Minister Henry Puna on behalf of Government and the people of Cook Islands, has captured the imagination of the international conservation community, donor agencies and philanthropists.
In preparation for the August 2012 announcement, a steering committee was selected to spearhead the marine park project with members drawn from the House of Ariki, Koutu Nui, Office of the Prime Minister, Crown Law, Environment, Marine Resources, MFEM and Tourism and environmentalists from civil society. MOIP (geospatial knowledge) and the office of the DPM (seabed minerals) will be invited to join the committee.
The first meeting in October and since then matters have progressed at a swift pace, with the committee researching how others countries went about establishing their MPAs. Financing and managing MPAs and the science to justify the concept were big issues and how to monitor the park once established.
Thus when chairman Elizabeth Wright-Koteka from OPM announced that Conservation International had issued an invitation for two delegates to attend a conference for managers and scientists of large scale marine protected areas (MPA), the the opportunity to learn their first hand experiences was accepted immediately.
The conference and think-tank sessions ran from 1-4 December attended by Elizabeth Wright-Koteka (OPM) and Tupe Short (Tairiterangi of the Koutu Nui). Such was the interest of the steering committee that 2 more delegates Tania Temata (NES) resident in Auckland and Noeline Browne (Itaata Rangatira sponsored by Koutu Nui) also joined the delegation. In addition, Joe Brider (NES) and Jolene Bosanquet (TIS) took part in the last sessions, with both already in Auckland on other business.
Members of the Big Ocean Network
Large scale MPA are 250,000 sq kilometers in area or larger and include: Great Barrier Reef (established in the 1970s in Queensland, Australia); Papahanaumokuakea (North Hawaiian Islands); Phoenix Islands (Kiribati); Chagos Archipelago (Indian Ocean); Motu Motira Hiva (Rapanui/Easter Islands); and an area in the Coral Sea above Australia.
Those who wish to join this exclusive ‘club’ are the Marinas Islands to protect the Mariana trench, reputed to have the deepest oceans anywhere in the world (in parts as deep as 11 kms); New Zealand to protect the Kermadec Arc with more than 50 submarine volcanoes in the archipelago, northwest of NZ and of course, the Cook Islands.
Attendees included Sandra Lee-Vercoe, former Minister of Conservation in New Zealand, now a member of the PEW environment group working on the Kermadec project and Takiora Ingram representing Mariana trench project at the conference. Also Sue Taiei of Conservation International whose assistance was invaluable to the Cook Islands delegation and scientist, Alan Friedlander who was recently in Aitutaki during the bone fishing competition.
Koutu Nui were greatly encouraged by the maxim given by Aulani of Papahanaumokuakea Marine Monument (Hawaii) that “nature and culture are one”. Aulani was referring to the need to consider the cultural beliefs and practices of our people in the stewardship of our part of Te Moana Nui o Kiwa. -Noelene Brown

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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