HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 601: 01 February 2012

News Brifes

Working with development partners
I was honoured to be invited to the Roundtable discussion between the Cook Islands Government and its development partners at the Rarotonga Hotel yesterday. Although I was the sole Opposition representative there I felt welcomed and it was good to catch up with the Government side.
Upon hearing the brief presentations by the Heads of Ministries or their proxies I was impressed with the high quality work and the continuity of directions (with extra emphasis added in some cases) that I remember were there when the Democratic Party was in Government pre-November 2010. The only topic that was not on our agenda then was the “Clean Green Energy” drive by the Prime Minister Henry Puna and those working for its implementation. With a total estimated bill of $245 million, it is a highly ambitious programme with a timeline completion date of 2020. What puzzled me somewhat was why all the islands in the northern group had secured funding from Japan to have “green energy” but not Penrhyn? I was also wondering whether there has there been consultation with each island on their preference? I remember Pukapuka Island after many years of having solar power which supplied at best energy for household light; it opted for diesel power generation so the people could use washing machines, power tools and freezers. No doubt more questions will be asked later on and the Opposition will need to know the nuts and bolts of the transformation of the Cook Islands from fossil energy to green energy.
Experience has taught me that when working with development partners, formal discussions such as the “roundtable talks” yesterday can be overwhelmed by pleasantries. However when time is limited, one would be excused for thinking that not much had been achieved, unless the purpose is to showcase the preparatory work the Cook Islands had done. If so, then the Government must be congratulated for what I believe to be a good job of selling the Cook Islands to the development partners.
Development partners are “committed” to working with the Cook Islands because their respective governments must expend funds to help developing countries. It’s a social conscience policy. But the problem has always been how do the Cook Islands satisfy the development partner’s criteria’s for assistance? When we don’t stack up in their eyes, a project can drag on and can also cost the Cook Islands. A quick example is the Pukapuka Cyclone Centre. It dragged on for more than five years after a cyclone devastated Pukapuka. The European Union thorough their own planners projected costs and gave funds for it (a somewhat large portion went to consultants) but halted the project and held the Cook Islands to ransom until we paid about $NZ400,000 and we did. That’s when the project proceeded.
The key thing to remember is that we and they are partners working together. We need more about the needs of our country than our partners. Aid should never be dictated by the developing partner.
Lastly, the Democratic Party family is very saddened with the death of the son of its former Vice President Papa Makirere Polia and I extend on behalf of all members warm sympathies to him, his wife and family. -Wilkie Rasmussen, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Party

Exciting new advances and challenges
Discussions at the Round Table meeting heralded some exciting new advances and challenges for us as a nation this week.
The discussions were extremely positive and demonstrated a change in the way our development partners - New Zealand, Australia, China, the Asian Development Bank and the European Union wish to engage and work with us in a coordinated and complementary way to meet our national goals.
‘We want to be with you in your car, with you as the driver, driving in the direction you want to be going in.’ ‘We have the highest commendation for your NSDP, and what it means for the future development of your people and that it is underscored by the rule of law.’
‘T he reforms you are undertaking for transformation are impressive.’ ‘Make sure you have a matrix of reform, but make sure it is your very own matrix unique to needs and aspirations of the Cook Islands and which will also help us to assess progress...’
These responses characterised the overall tone of proceedings, however they were rightly offset by a caution that though we have begun work to stabilise our economic position, the vagaries of the global economy mean our efforts towards greater transparency and efficiency must continue to be strengthened.
The meeting highlighted the phased approach to reforms such in the public sector and the focus on service delivery and reach guided by our national priorities; and our ambitious efforts to achieve our renewable energy targets. Participants also commended the call for development partners to form a partnership led by government to improve water and sanitation services coupled with the need for sustainable funding for these.
In its deliberations I reminded the meeting that the principles of ownership by the Cook Islands, alignment with our local systems and harmonization to avoid duplication - should be paramount in guiding discussions.
Significantly I also asked that that we and our development partners, practise mutual accountability for real and measurable development results that bring about positive changes to peoples’ lives and where our young people especially can thrive and yearn to live a fulfilling life. My plea was to create an environment that inspires our children to meet the challenges they face and which for some can appear so insurmountable, that the choices they make are tragic and final.
I believe the power and commitment of our people and of forums such as the Round Table Meeting can help to secure a better future for our people. The meeting theme of ‘sharing’ befits the challenge we face today and which our forefathers faced when they embarked on their journeys with a vision to find another island on which they could provide a better future for their children and their grandchildren. -Prime Minister Hon Henry Puna

Funding for homecare and nursing services
Funding of US $300,000 will now commence for the purpose of Home Care and Nursing Services. The funding is for the delivery of services for our Elderly and Persons with Disabilities.
Three national pilot schemes will be funded and NGO’s and CBO’s with experience in delivering programs for the Elderly and Persons with disabilities will be invited to submit applications.
Applications for funding are open from 30 January and will close the 30 March 2012. Donor the Asian Development Bank (ADB) - Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) has funded granted assistance totalling US$3 million in the Pacific for the Cook Islands, Marshall Islands and Tonga under the: Social Protection of the Vulnerable in the Pacific Program.
The Cook Islands received a grant of US$900,000 allocated to three areas:
• Component A: funding for Home care and Nursing services
• Component B: National Consultation of the Social Welfare Review
• Component C: Develop a National Social Protection Safety Net Policy’s and write a Pacific Document to share our knowledge, experiences and lessons learnt this is to be launched at a regional conference in 2013.
ADB-JFPR National Manager Debbie Ave commented that this is a unique opportunity for NGO’s and CBO’s to access funds to develop much needed services for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities who have been identified as one of the most disadvantaged group of citizens in our country.
“With an ageing population and the breakdown of traditional safety nets such as families taking care of their Mama’s and Papa’s, partially as a result of out-migration and smaller families to share the responsibility. “
“It is essential we plan for the future to catering for the changes happening in our society, providing these services is the first step to better meet the needs of our more vulnerable in our communities,” she said.
Application forms, Criteria and Guidelines available from Destiny Tara-Tolevu the Ministry of Internal Affairs on (destiny-jfpr@intaff.gov.ck) or phone 29370 extn 251.
Internal Affairs Media Release

When was the last time you had your eyes checked for a full health examination?

Proper eye care generally requires a full eye-health examination at least every 18 months to two years. Eyes of Rarotonga is a professionally-equipped optometrist located within the CITC Complex in Avarua and can assist you with keeping your eyes healthy using their full range of services. According to optometrist Annie Dickens of Eyes of Rarotonga, a typical eye exam will take approximately 30-45 minutes. You will be asked about your general medical background as well as any specific vision problems you may have experienced. The optometrist will then examine the interior and exterior of the eye using specialist equipment, as well as checking things like peripheral vision and the clarity and accuracy of your vision at varying distances.
Here are three reasons why you and your family should consider getting your eyes examined as soon as possible:
Glaucoma is the number one cause of preventable blindness. It is called the ‘silent thief of sight’ – most people are unaware of their disease until the damage is done. Eyes of Rarotonga has the right equipment to detect the disease so it can be treated immediately. It occurs more commonly after the age of 40 but can be as common as Diabetes within a community.
Annie says that according to a recent study in New Zealand, up to 25% of children are failing in schools because they cannot see clearly or accurately. An eye examination is a simple way to ensure your children are at their best in the classroom and it is possible that something as simple as a pair of spectacles or contact lenses may be what your child needs if they are experiencing difficulties with learning.
Contact lenses of the best technology are replacing the existing lenses on the island - good news for those who might be embarrassed about wearing glasses! It is also good news for current wearers of contact lenses – cosmetic or otherwise – as Annie has seen many people with damage to the eyes due to incorrect use of contact lenses. It is vital to seek professional advice on wearing contact lenses -if you don’t you run the risk of causing permanent eye damage. Incorrect use and lack of fitting with cosmetic coloured contact lenses have caused eyesight to be lost completely in eyes!
Annie prides herself on being a problem solver and she says that even if you have had difficulty in the past with certain glasses lenses or contact lenses, there may be new solutions. Contact Annie to book your full eye examination today! -Ngariki Ngatae

Back To Tereora
OMG. The first day of school had just begun and already I could tell that it was going to be boring. I originally planned to arrive at school with “style” by catching the bus (how stylish could you get?) but my good friend Nga offered me a lift to school and so I hitched a ride with her and her cool family. On the way, we caught up with what we did during our holiday, the good and the bad (There were more bad things coming out from her holiday than mine. Lolz).
We finally arrived on Tereora School grounds. I thanked the driver and offered her four bucks for petrol money (Not nearly enough to fill up a truck, but it was all I had on me) but they refused. So off we went on our little “adventure”. We discovered some friends on the way and had a happy gathering in front of the office. Everybody was thrilled to be back at school, but I kind of missed my workplace (No more free internet or getting paid). I had to admit it, though. It felt good to be back.
Year 10, 11 and 12 were all called up to an assembly in the hall. Some poor Year 9 students had come to school and had to be sent back home. We had a “discussion” with our new principal, Mr. Bali Haque. I consider him to be a man of poise and very thorough with his speech, instead of beating around the bush. The changes in staff were introduced to the students and we were surprised to hear that there would only be two deans this year, one for the Juniors and one for the Seniors. Wow.
When that was all over and done with, the moment of truth finally arrived. It was time to be put into our new form classes. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. When the first lot was called out, I was shaking. Now I knew for certain that I would be separated from the classmates that I had last year. Oh no! I was in the second group to be called out. I got to be with five of my classmates from 10 OA (Yes!) who were the nutty one (Robyn), the Brain (May), the Drama Queen (Jamie), the Unpredictable one (Michael) and Reny (who doesn’t deserve a title because she was absent on the first day of school due to an over-extended holiday in New Zealand). I was happy with my form class (sort of).
Our form teacher, Mr Tua, is a very stoic guy who doesn’t mess around. I looked around to see who was in my form class. It was a wacky mixture of outer islanders, repeats and other former Year 10’s. It was a scary sight to see. I was elected as one of the class captains (Because some dumb people voted for me. They will soon regret their decision).
We had lunch with our “true” form class and discussed what we thought about our new form classes. Some thought it sucked, others thought it was alright. I mean, let’s face it, the first days back at school aren’t always the easiest. All in all, I reckon I’d give my day a rating of five out of ten. -Norma Ngatamariki

Update on the Muri Care Environment Project
On Friday the 27th, the Herald visited Mii Kauvai, Chairman of the Muri Care Environment Group. Mii, who is a devoted member of the Muri community, is aiming for more public awareness in regards to the Muri lagoon and its current condition.
Mii, in partnership with Jeane Matenga, is planning to create a documentary based on the future of the lagoon and the importance of maintaining its pristine beauty. The aim of this documentary is to make an impression on our people and to encourage others to partake in the conservation of the Muri lagoon. It also relays the message that we must appreciate what we have, as there is none other like it in the entire world. The documentary has been themed so that its main focus is “The Past, Present and Future.”
Mii has noticed that holding workshops for public awareness has little or no impact on our people’s way of thinking, so it was time to take action and get more involved in the Project by establishing set goals.
Educating our children is vital, as they play a major role in the future of our lagoon. “We must teach them the importance of maintaining our lagoon,” Mii says, as she prepares the little ones for their speeches. It is our next generation who will be the future leaders of the country, and it is them who will make the decisions concerning the future of the Muri lagoon.
The EU (European Union) is the foundation of the Project, as it is them who provide funding to the Muri Care Group. This is much appreciated by the Group, as it makes good use of the money by purchasing equipment and hiring experts in order to conduct surveys and censuses.
The Muri Care Environment Project began in 2008, as members of the Muri community were concerned about the welfare of the lagoon. With the assistance of the EU, the Muri Care Group were able to hire experts from overseas to conduct surveys and research (as mentioned above). The issue that was raised was the alarmingly high nutrient levels in the lagoon and what were the causes. Surveys were conducted in order to determine the exact source, but it is an ongoing process and is yet to be completed. Questions included in the survey asked people about the type of products they used for their laundry (whether it was phosphorous-free or not), the condition of their sewage tank and whether or not they had livestock situated near the streams. The data collected from these surveys are a valuable resource for future reference. -Norma Ngatamariki

Every day is Valentine’s Day with Pacific Resort
What better way to create unforgettable memories this Valentines then with a romantic escape with Pacific Resort Hotel Group, who have decided to celebrate in true style by making every day in February Valentine’s Day. Pacific Resort Hotel Group (PRHG) represents a distinctive collection of world class South Pacific hotels and is a boutique hotel and resort management company with an enviable reputation for resort design, development, management and marketing. For the PRHG 2011 marked an achievable year boasting a varied list of international hotel awards including the Bloomberg and Google International ‘Best Small Hotel- Asia Pacific’ award, HM ‘South Pacific Manager” Award and the prestigious World Travel Awards ‘World’s Leading Boutique Resort” for Pacific Resort Aitutaki and World’s Leading Island Villas” for Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa - marking the groups outstanding performance within the travel and tourism industry in offering premium and personable holiday experiences that leave guests feeling rejuvenated, inspired and wanting to share their experience with others.
Leaders in the industry the PRHG have three luxurious properties in their portfolio, Pacific Resort Rarotonga, Pacific Resort Aitutaki and the newest concept Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa. Pacific Resort Rarotonga located in the South Pacific island nation of the Cook Islands is a full-service authentic boutique resort situated in an unrivaled location of Muri Lagoon, a premium boutique where simple, lazy days meet luxurious evenings and where the friendly, gracious staff meets your every request. And of course the highly decorated Pacific Resort Aitutaki, home to an enclave of privacy, refinement and luxury, which seduces even the most discerning traveler. Pacific Resort Aitutaki member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection has just 27 luxurious ‘absolute beachfront’ bungalows, suites and villas all with their own personal, panoramic view of Aitutaki’s world-famous lagoon, where every sunset majestically captures the colors of the lagoon and the ocean beyond.
This Valentines dine with your feet in the sand at Sandals Restaurant & Barefoot Bar right here in Muri at Pacific Resort Rarotonga or perhaps make the most of one of the Valentines special 2 nights’ accommodation packages for a romantic escape or mark the special day in opulence with Pacific Resort Aitutaki’s luxury Getaway, all at affordable prices. Whichever way you decide to spoil your significant other you’re not short of special valentine moments with Pacific Resort. For more information about the Pacific Resorts Valentine romantic getaways contact 20 427, bookings essential. -Maria Tanner

Future looking bright for Mauke’s Moringa
On Wednesday morning Hugh Graham updated the Herald regarding his Moringa project in Mauke.
Hugh advised that the 1600 trees planted in September last year (pics taken 18 Jan) are now just over 6 ft high.
He said he is grateful for the assistance of Taukea Raui and the staff of Mauke Island Agriculture who transplanted the trees while he was in China. The project is being overseen by Punga Kimitaunga.
Hugh says a market for the dried leaves in powder form, has been established in New Zealand. Also the Business, Trade and Investment Board (BTIB) are conducting further market research on his behalf in NZ and other countries.
BTIB are also determining the true value of the Moringa products with their contacts overseas.
Depending on NZ Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries approval Hugh hopes to be selling on the NZ market the dried and powder form. There is already interest in other Moringa products such as the oil, cream, lotions and medicinal applications. However Huh says this is in the four /five year plan.
Hugh has some 2,000 plants in the ground.
He is now looking to expand and increase production and hopes to have over 30,000 planted by June. -Charles Pitt

Get your Juice on
Caroline Rennie former owner of Dockside eatery is turning a new leaf for the New Year, her latest business venture Juicee located in Maraerenga is a welcomed healthier addition to the islands ever growing dining establishments. The store, Juicee will feature predominantly juices and salads all acquired from local produce assures owner Rennie, “It’s great because majority of the produce here (in Rarotonga) is organic.” The health conscious Rennie stresses the importance and benefits of maintaining a well balanced diet and obtaining daily vitamins and minerals and suggest that these can be easily attained through juicing of vegetables and fruit and boast the advantages of nu as being a “near perfect food source” which she plans to incorporate into her menu. The bright orange and green store is hard to miss located on the main road and next to The Salon hair studio, and although in its early stages of opening Rennie is expecting foot traffic to pick up over the coming weeks as she readies her signs displaying her range of hearty salads, “none of that fluffy stuff,” and looks to add in the nearing months detoxing juices and protein shakes for the equally health mindful enthusiasts. Get your juice on with Juicee in Maraerenga open Monday to Friday till 3pm serving up local organic juice and salads. -Maria Tanner

Valentine ’s Day with Muri Beach Resort

For Valentine’s Day ideas look no further as the hopeless romantics at Muri Beach Resort and Aqua Cafe are honoring the patron saint of love by offering a beautiful romantic candlelit 3 course dinner overlooking the pool. The Muri Beach Resort is located on the south east corner of Rarotonga, right on stunning Muri Beach overlooking the tropical islet of Ta’akoka with relaxed and casual alfresco dining surrounded by tropical gardens setting an ideal scene for romance on this special holiday. Putting the Muri Beach Resort and Aqua Café & Bar’s new menu to good use and demonstrating her elaborate skills head chef Chrissy Thomas will be tempting palettes with a 3 course menu plus a glass of champagne. What would be valentines without bubbles? And some of the menu items include garlic lime calamari sautéed in garlic butter & lime juice nestled in rocket lettuce with a garlic aioli or baked fish wrapped in local banana leaf with onion and chili tapenade and to top it all of with a dessert choice of the tropical fruit delight or chocolate profiteroles. The Muri Beach Resort Valentines 3 course dining experience comes at a set price of only $45 per person and bookings are encouraged. For more information you can call the helpful staff on 22779 Ext 2. -Maria Tanner

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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