HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Aussie visitor promotes the Cook Islands

Visiting our shores this week is Dennis Rowe and his family from Sydney, Australia.
What makes Dennis interesting, is his background and his association with the Cook Islands. He has a 10 year association with Australian based Cook Islands rugby league players.
Dennis served 15 years with the Australian Royal Air Force graduating with trade qualifications in motor mechanics and plumbing.
He comes from a small rural town called Londonderry which has a population of around 1,500 and is famously renowned for its speciality of breeding greyhound racing dogs. It’s a small rural area where families enjoy spacious living of between an acre to 4 acres on average and is serviced by a few shops and facilities not too dissimilar to a small rural farming community.
He is currently employed by Sydney Water as a Treatment Officer, a job he has enjoyed doing for over 16 years and works from the North Head Treatment Plant which services a huge catchment area between Blacktown and Manly. Dennis says that they process 350 million litres of water per day through their plant which is what he refers to as “average flow.” On rainy days, this flow increases to approximately 1400 million litres and can be quite taxing.
Their objective is to remove the solid waste material from the water. On average, this process removes about 40% of organic solids and to reduce the water consistency to about 30%. This process takes approximately 22 minutes through a screening process so at the end of the day, there is around 30 tonne of dry waste material which is then on sold to local farmers daily as fertilizers. Dennis says this product is popular and in demand as a soil conditioner for agricultural farming.
One interesting aspect of his work is the use of worms to break down organic waste. This is a more cost efficient and effective way of speeding up the fertilization process but this type of process is still in its infancy. The organic waste is stored in screen chambers which are then opened in sections to allow the worms to eat their way through each storage chamber before eventually converting to organic fertilizer. The worms are locally bred and are also used for small organic farming projects.
Dennis’ company last year spent over $AUS150m to upgrade their plant and to include the latest technology as part of its processing quality. There are 30 people employed in the treatment processing plant and 20 in maintenance.
Among some of Dennis’ many talents is his interest and skills in rugby league. He has been associated with the Australian Cook Islands Rugby League Players for about 10 years and spends most of his time teaching first aid, strapping, assisting coaches with mentoring programs as well as coaching. It is through this relationship that he has visited the Cook Islands in the past and forged a passion to visit as often as he can. Dennis accompanied the Aussie Cook Islands Rugby League to the Cook Islands last October that were supposed to play the NZ Kiwis and has established lasting relationships with many locals in Rarotonga.
Part of his busy schedule is his involvement in teaching first aid to school students, mechanical engineering and apprentice plumbing. Dennis has also been called on, on many occasions to give motivational speeches and pep talks to many sports teams, something he really enjoys and intends to do while in the Cook Islands. He has been invited to give motivational team talks to several of the senior rugby league teams this week prior to returning to Australia on the weekend.
While his passion and focus is to encourage the development and integration of Australian based rugby league players to compete in the next Rugby League World Cup, he believes the Cook Islands has the potential and ability to also participate and strongly encourages our people to support local development initiatives where possible for our local players to be exposed to international competition.
As a suggestion, perhaps your Tourism office may want to utilize some of your big name league players in Australia to promote the Cook Islands. This is all positive stuff and many league fans will travel where the action is. To me, the Cook Islands is really an “unknown destination” with so much market and economic potential through rugby league promotions.
Although he has come at a time when tourism is slow, he believes we could do more with marketing the Cook Islands as a destination because little is known about the Cooks especially when being marketed alongside places like Fiji, Vanuatu, Tahiti etc. He loves coming to the Cook Islands and although it seems a bit expensive, people will come if the destination and price is right and the quality of food and services are good.
Dennis and his wife have made this a special occasion and will celebrate their wedding anniversary in Rarotonga this week with their son 14 yr old Rylee who simply loves it here and thinks the people are great.
Dennis is keen to promote a Cook Islands Homestay program in Londonderry to foster potential league players from here and will canvass this option with several league and community stalwarts prior to his departure.

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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