HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

News Briefs

Call to review free association with NZ
Posted at 06:25 on 13 March, 2012 UTC

The Cook Islands finance minister Mark Brown says he would like the free entry arrangement it has with New Zealand reexamined as the country’s population continues to shrink. The Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau are part of the New Zealand realm and their citizens travel on New Zealand passports. Brown, who is in Wellington, says the ease with which Cook Islanders can emigrate to New Zealand has resulted in depopulation and led to a limited labour force. “Out of the countries that are getting significant depopulation the three of the New Zealand realm countries are the ones most affected so maybe it is time that we put a debate on and see what people’s thoughts are about the arrangement that we have of free entry into New Zealand and whether that should be relooked at.”
- News Content © Radio New Zealand International

Finance Minister needs to get economy right so people do not leave
Finance Minister Hon Mark Brown’s comments on Radio NZ International concerning depopulation may be taken out of context and he needs to remind the public that other strategies are being considered by government.
As Minister of Finance he has much to contribute by getting the economy right so people don’t consider leaving as an option to every day survival.
Brown has some enormous issues to tackle like the rising cost of living due to the cost of imports impacted by factors beyond government’s control, high interest rates being charged by the banks and the lack of competition between banks seen as vital for bringing down interest rates, the low rates of pay, the remittance of funds overseas by foreign workers, the lack of employment especially for trades people.
Two economic taskforces have failed to make an impact and the failure to rein in government spending means less funds being re-invested in the private sector to create jobs and stimulate the economy.
Local businesses have commented at the slowing down of cash flow as the public tighten up on spending. Reform of the public service has now become critical as we move closer to the same situation the country faced in 1995-96. Waste and duplication in the public service must be eliminated.
If government fails to act within the next six months then it will notice a drop in the tax take and the whole economy may start on a downward slide.
The reasons why people are leaving are clear. Attend to those issues and people may just reconsider.
Reviewing our free entry into NZ is an “easy” option when everything else seems “too hard.”
It is the “hard issues” which the Finance Minister must have the courage to tackle, if he wishes to keep his job.

Dunedin described as ‘a beautiful place - very cute’
Despite coming from a tiny Pacific island nation, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna describes Dunedin as “cute”.
Mr Puna, his wife Akaiti, Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand Tiki Matapo and Mr Puna’s chief executive Edwin Pittman were greeted with a traditional turou (welcome) by the city’s Cook Islands community at the University of Otago Hunter Centre last night.
Laden with colourful ei, Mr Puna and his small delegation sat down to a typical Cook Islands kaikai (feast), including taro, maniota (arrowroot) and the islands’ version of chicken curry, potato salad, chop suey and doughnuts.
Representatives of the university and Dunedin City Council, as well as local member of Parliament Michael Woodhouse joined about 60 people present.
Mr Puna told the Otago Daily Times he made a promise to a member of Otago’s Cook Islands community he would visit when given the opportunity.
On his South Island tour he will also take in Ashburton, where a large number of Cook Islanders live, as well as Christchurch and Invercargill.
The governing Cook Islands Party, led by Mr Puna, pledged support to Christchurch earthquake victims by offering nominated Christchurch “heroes” paid holidays in Rarotonga.
Mr Puna said he would update Christchurch mayor Bob Parker about the project’s success when in the city.
He said his first impressions of Dunedin were positive.
“It’s a beautiful place - very cute,” Mr Puna said. He is expected to return to Rarotonga next week. - Otago Daily Times

Clear support for Strickland as CIP candidate
The Cook Islands Party (CIP) executive for the constituency of Teenui-Mapumai in Atiu has completed its ballot for a candidate to contest the seat currently held by Norman George.
The runoff between Taoro Strickland (also known as George Brown of Super Brown fame) and Apii Porio took place last Wednesday evening.
Taoro told the Herald on Monday that he received 72 votes to Apii’s 8. With some 108 on the roll, this is more than two thirds under Taoro’s belt.
On the preceding Monday evening, Taoro confirmed that both he and Apii each received 20 nominations and Vaine Pe received 4. He confirmed these were nominations and not votes as was reported in the Times last Friday.
Taoro confirmed that the CIP executive on Rarotonga tried to prevent the ballot from taking place. It was scheduled for Tuesday but took place on Wednesday. The Herald understands the CIP central executive may have been concerned factions may form however the result indicates overwhelming support for Taoro.
George won the seat in the 2010 general election for the CIP then later became an Independent. George is seeking membership of the Democratic Party.
Taoro said constituents had been concerned that with George becoming Independent, the CIP members lacked representation.

Tourist spending down
According to the ADB in the Cook Islands estimates suggest real earnings per tourist in 2011 were actually 15 per cent lower than in 2007.
THE Asian Development Bank estimates tourism growth to be 3.5 per cent this year.
“In 2012, tourism arrivals to Fiji are expected to grow by 3.5 per cent, which represents a moderation of the growth recorded in 2011 due in part to the January floods in Nadi. If historical patterns continue, slower growth in tourist arrivals to Fiji can be expected to result in increased tourism to Vanuatu. Such destination substitution was observed following the 2009 floods in Fiji,” the ADB Pacific Economic Monitor said.
However, despite the high growth in arrivals, there is evidence from some countries that tourism receipts may be growing less strongly because of discounting and lower average expenditures by visitors.
The ADB said that in the Cook Islands and Fiji, estimates suggest real earnings per tourist in 2011 were actually 15 per cent lower than in 2007.
The World Tourism Organisation estimates that global tourism grew by 4 to 4.5 per cent in 2011, down from the 2010 growth of more than 6 per cent.
“Tourism to the Asia-Pacific region performed better than the world average with growth of about 5 to 6 per cent, although this represented significant moderation from the 12 per cent expansion in the previous year. Visitor arrivals to the Pacific are estimated to have increased by about 6.0 per cent in 2011 and have reached historically high levels in most countries. Total visitor arrivals in Fiji reached an all-time high of almost 675,000 in 2011, 6.8 per cent higher than the prior year.
“The Cook Islands recorded a new fiscal year (FY) high in total arrivals, reporting more than 108,000 visitors. Samoa reported a record high of 129,000 visitors. Arrivals in Palau breached the 100,000 level for the first time in FY2011 (October to September), increasing by 25 per cent over FY2010 arrivals.
“For the Cook Islands, the reintroduction of a regular Sydney- Rarotonga flight is projected to contribute to the expected growth in total arrivals of about 5.5 per cent in FY2012. Due to increased marketing, modest recovery in tourism arrivals to Tonga is expected after 2 consecutive years of decline. Growth in visitor arrivals in Samoa is projected to pick up to about 2.5 per cent in FY2012. Palau expects to continue recent years of strong growth in international visitors, driven by increased numbers of visitors from East Asia,” the report said.
-Fiji Times release

Visit by Cuban Ambassador
Her Excellency Maria del Carmen Herrera Caserio, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba will be visiting the Cook Islands from 13 to 17 March 2012. The purpose of Ambassador Herrera Caserio’s visit is to present her credentials to the Cook Islands Government.
Diplomatic Relations between the Cook Islands and the Republic of Cuba were established in September 2002. This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of relations.
During the Ambassadors visit she will meet with the Government to discuss matters of mutual interest in the fields of health, sports and education.
Ambassador Herrera Caserio is based in Wellington and is also accredited to Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.

Cook Islands a hit in ‘Maketi Ples’
Following on from the success of its inaugural exhibition last year, the 2012 ‘Maketi Ples’ exhibition took place at Global Gallery in Sydney, in February. Among the exhibiting artists – who hailed from Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia – were two Cook Island-based artists, Kay George and Loretta Reynolds.
The event seeks to generate sales and awareness of Pacific-based artists’ works amongst the Australian art market, as well as to give the attending artists’ themselves the opportunity to “engage with potential importers, designers and other commercial opportunities”, as well as with other artists from Pacific Island countries.
With the support of Air New Zealand, Kay George flew to Sydney to attend the event. George commented that the promotion of the Cook Islands at the event was invaluable, with many of the 100 attendees on the opening night expressing enthusiasm for the Cook Islands. “This lady that I met, who loved my work, she just sold the Cook Islands! She invited the next night 35 high-powered business women. She [told them] she’d been to the Cook Islands and she is setting up tours to bring over groups of women.” According to George the tours would be based around creative workshops in areas such as textiles and jewellery. George added, “Nobody had heard of the Cook Islands – but she did such a good sell.” On the same evening a live show featuring traditional Cook Islands dancing took place in the gallery.
George added that the group of artists who attended were taken into the vaults of the Museum of Sydney for a special viewing of the restricted collection of Pacific Art held by the museum. She said amongst the collection they viewed a poncho-style cloak made of Tapa-cloth, which belonged to an Ariki from the Cook Islands around the early 1800’s.
George generated much interest in her collection of hand-painted textiles and the response to her creative works and the Cook Islands as a whole, was overwhelmingly positive.
- Ngariki Ngatae

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

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.