HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 601: 01 February 2012

PM welcomes donor partners
The following is the full text of PM Hon Henry Puna’s speech of welcome to delegates attending the bilateral discussions on Monday

Your Excellency John Carter, New Zealand High Commissioner, Mr Ambassador, distinguished representatives of our bilateral partners, Heads of Regional, UN and Financial Organisations, members of the Diplomatic Corps, representatives of the private sector and Non Government and Civil Society Organisations, Members and Representatives of the Cook Islands Government, Ladies and Gentlemen, Kia Orana.
To our donor partners and friends from overseas, I would like to extend to you all the warmest of welcomes to the Cook Islands. Thank you for accepting our invitation to be here.
I hope that you have had, or will have, some chance to get out and about and sample some of the wonders and hospitality that our little paradise has to offer visitors who come to our shores.
Our beautiful home is set in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, an area of water which is greater than all the land masses of the world combined. For this reason, I prefer to characterise my country not as a Small Island Developing State, but as a Large Ocean Developing State. Our culture is at one with the ocean. The Pacific feeds us, provides us with resources, and fills us with wonder and hope; although sadly, at times, it does get angry with us.
It would be true to say that we are at one with the ocean. Our culture arises from the spirit of our fore fathers, the adventurous sea voyagers who centuries ago set out across the vast ocean guided by the stars in a spirit of adventure.
I have imagined that our forefathers embarked on those journeys with a vision to find another island on which they could provide a better future for their children and their grandchildren.
Centuries on things have not really changed, for as the leadership then strove to improve the lives of their people so does the Government I lead now today.
Just like our forefathers, my Government is on a journey to help secure a better future for our people.
Our journey is one of enabling opportunities for our children to meet their potential, taking care of our vulnerable and maintaining the health of our environment.
Unlike our forefathers who set forth with only the stars to guide them into the unknown, we know our destination and we have far more navigational tools to assist us in getting there. While we would like to steer the ship to our final destination, we would also like those in the room here today to be our maps and GPS to help us along.
Our final destination is a country where our people will enjoy the highest quality of life consistent with their aspirations and which is in harmony with their culture and environment.
Our people have been heavily involved in developing this destination. Te Kaveinga Nui 2011-2015, or our National Sustainable Development Plan for the next 5 years, sets out eight mutually reinforcing goals which cannot be realised in isolation.
The presentations which will shortly follow will touch more on these goals so I will stay away from the detail. Suffice to say they are all important and have a particular point to play. But there are some that are particularly dear to me; water and sanitation, renewable energy, and the creation of a vibrant economy.
Our country cannot advance without a dynamic economy, capable of creating opportunities, wealth, and income, for all our people.
The focus on renewable energy continues to advance. I have made clear our country’s intention to be 50 per cent renewable by 2015 and 100 per cent by 2020. This is a key to our future. The continued dependence on imported oil is a crippling dependence from which we are determined to be free. Ambitious - yes, Achievable - yes, but only with your collective support.
In your deliberations today, I urge you to be guided by the principles of the Paris Declaration. The principle of ownership. We have our NSDP to guide our development – we own it – help us implement it. In doing so, remember the principle of alignment and the use of local systems. Coordinate, simplify procedures and share information to avoid duplication as emphasized by the principle of Harmonisation. Always focus on the principle of achieving real and measurable results that brings about positive changes to peoples’ lives. And lastly, may we, the Cook Islands and you, our development partners, practise mutual accountability for development results.
As our theme for this meeting implies, let us share our resources, our various competitive advantages, our combined wisdom to achieve the future that this country desires and deserves.
Finally as we move into our discussions, I need to reiterate the commitment this government has to our young people. Our young people are our future. Whatever we do we must strive to create an environment where our young thrive and yearn to live a fulfilling life.
In the past 2 weeks, two young Cook Islanders have taken their lives. Lives which should have been full of hope, excitement and an enthusiasm to live life to the fullest.
I am heartbroken by these recent events. Our community needs to ensure that no more lives are lost in this way, and that those of our young who are troubled can turn to someone in dark troubled times.
I am seeking a helping hand from those of you today who have also had to deal with these issues to assist in a process that will lead us to providing an environment that inspires our children not to turn to such a tragic and final option to escape the challenges they face in their young lives.
In closing, I wish to affirm that we stand ready to foster closer cooperation with our development partners through continued dialogue and committed partnerships.
On that note, I wish you all the best in your deliberations today and take great pleasure in declaring this Roundtable meeting on “Sharing” open.

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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