HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

News in Brief

The bleeding continues as Government wallows
The great singer /poet/songwriter Bob Dylan wrote as part of a protest song about young Americans going to war in Vietnam: Where have all the young men gone?, Gone to graveyards, everyone, When will they ever learn?, When will they ever learn?
I recite these words because as the Government dilly-dallies more of our young men leave the country draining it of much needed brain and manual power. To put it bluntly, this country is bleeding and all the Government is doing is giving lame excuses and theorising about the problems we as a whole nation are facing.
As Leader of the Opposition, I have aired the collective voice of the Opposition urging the Government to take some pre-emptive steps and then build some foundations of solutions to address the depopulation and the negative economic growth. But it appears that the Government do not wish to heed our advice as it might make them look bad that the Opposition is upstaging them with constructive ideas. I note comments by the Minister of Finance that we need to change our attitude towards foreign aid and think of it as investments in development. Now, if any mentality is to change, it is that of a stubborn Government who seems to think that such pronouncements are novel and that the people of the Cook Islands are like school kids engaged in an experiment.
I notice that both the Prime Minister and Minister Brown and in fact all Ministers of this Government speak and sound like regional agencies whose theories determine what type of aid assistance should the Cook Islands have and how much. I’m afraid to say that all of them have been overwhelmed by the dictates of the donors and have also been indoctrinated by the thinking and attitude of such donors.
The Democratic Party Government never waited. When it is a matter for us to deal with, we dealt with it and let the donor’s fit in. That’s why all the projects in progress were all from the Democratic Government. We acted rather than wallowed.
I note a comment by a member of the public that Minister Brown was correct when he recently said that high interest rate is the cause of depopulation. My God, where have these two been? Over the last few weeks I have held radio talk backs, ran articles and wrote columns saying this very thing. The Opposition struck a raw nerve with the public when we revealed to them the actual lending rates by the three banks here and why it stayed up high. We urged the Government to take measures to reduce it – well they came up with a review that could possibly take all year and by then, I guarantee that about ten people will have forfeited their mortgage repayments and gone to Australia. We asked to Government to consider a special Parliament sitting to get a political agreement on a united way forward but were rejected.
Now, who is being open minded and forward thinking, the Opposition or the Government? I can tell you it is the Opposition because it is concerned about the welfare of the people. It gives these concerns more urgency. The Opposition have solutions, they are staring the Government in the eye.
Lastly, the Democratic Party lost its leader Robert Wigmore last week to cancer and condolences to Mama Tuaine and all their children and grandchildren. He will be remembered. -Wilkie Rasmussen, Laeder of the Opposition

Climate Change team hold 2nd meeting
The second quarterly meeting of the Country team for Climate Change (CCCT) and Disaster Risk Management (DRM) was held at the DPM Office conference room on Tuesday morning starting at 10am and the Herald was there for part of the meeting.
Some 13 people attended the meeting’s first session.
It was scheduled as a two hour meeting, chaired by Arona Ngari with the objectives being;
-to effectively communicate and inform members of the happenings surrounding the area of climate change,
-to seek ideas and promote discussions, and
-build on the improvement of communication.
The expected outcomes were;
-a well informed group on projects and project implementation currently taking place,
-a well informed group on what is taking/due to take place within the climate change arena,
-improved communication and networking between members, and
-ideas and discussions that can improve areas within the climate change arena.
During the first session, 10am-11am, when the Herald was in attendance, the group were introduced and provided advice to a film crew from Fiji to do a film for SPC about climate change, to be shown on the “Pacific Way” TV programme. The team leader Larry Thomas briefed the group on the team’s mission (see side story).
There followed an update by Ana Tiraa on the Adaptation Fund project and National Implementing Entity (NIE).
That was followed by an update by Ana Tiraa on the Pacific Adaptation Strategy Programme financially supported projects and where things were with its progress.
The first session ended with a report on the upcoming United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Bonn, Germany by Sandra Tisam from Foreign Affairs-the attendees and what the Cook Islands would be following.
Most interest and discussed was centred on the Adaptation Fund project and the National Implementing Entity issues.
Approximately US$5 million has been allocated to the Cook Islands from the Adaptation Fund, to implement the Akamatutu’anga i te iti tangata no te tuatau manakokore ia e te taui’anga reva - Strengthening the Resilience of our Islands and our Communities to Climate Change (SRIC - CC) project

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been accredited to the Adaptation Fund Board and will work with the Cook Islands on the implementation of this project.
The Cook Islands is to prepare an annual work plan.
The first lot of funds will be disbursed after that.
For its part, the UNDP will be the Executing Entity/Implementing Partner for the Cook Islands projects. The project’s programme is expected to run over five years from May 2012 to May 2017.They will be managing the programme. Approximately $420,000 from the total budget of the project will cover UNDP’s fees to administer this project over five years .
This relationship between UNDP and the Cook Islands government to deliver this project will be formalized with the signing of the project document In June an inception workshop is planned involving stakeholders.
The OPM, Climate Change Office has been designated as the National Executing agency. A project management unit will be established to coordinate implementation of the project.
The members agreed to a small group of five to draft a paper on the pros and cons of becoming a NIE.
In the second session from 11am to 11.40am, members were to get an update on the JNAP, an update on the 2nd National Communication Strategy, a briefing on Ana’s upcoming attendance at an SPC meeting in Fiji and a briefing from Vaine Wichman on her V&A research project. -Charles Pitt

Government News

Northern Cook Islands Fishing Company Limited investigation
Last year a complaint was made to police in relation to the activities of the above company. The investigation was referred to the New Zealand Police Fraud Unit and the New Zealand Serious Fraud Office to review. That review is now complete.
The Commissioner of Police is satisfied that there is insufficient evidence to establish criminal intent on the part of the Northern Cook Islands Fishing Company Limited or other parties connected with the company.
The Commissioner has therefore directed that no further police action be taken into this matter. He advised that the best course of action to take in this matter would be through civil court which I understand is already being actioned.

Investigation into the former CIIC Chief Executive
This investigation is complete.
The investigation file was reviewed by the New Zealand Police Fraud Unit and the New Zealand Serious Fraud Office. That review and follow-up investigations are now complete.
The Commissioner of Police is satisfied that the evidential threshold required for the laying of criminal charges against the former Chief Executive Officer or anyone else connected with this investigation has not been reached.
The Commissioner of Police have therefore directed that no further police action be taken.

Changes to Ministerial Portfolios
The Prime Minister today announced that there would be a reallocation of portfolios with the Prime Minister taking over the responsibilities of Outer Islands Governance while Minister Heather will add Police to his list of portfolios.
These changes are largely attributed to the implementation of the recommendation of the Public Service Functional Review that outer islands governance fall under the auspice of the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister is keen that these changes occur before the next budget round so that work on determining the details of outer islands governance can commence and that further implementation can be incorporated into Budget 2012/13 and into the second phase of the ADB Implementing Public Sector Reforms Program.
According to the Prime Minister, “whilst the details of Pa Enua governance are not yet determined and finalised, governance will definitely be based on the principle of empowering the island councils as elected representatives of their communities to take a leading role in decision making and progressing development on the islands”.
This change in portfolios will be effective immediately. The Prime Minister is certain that Minister Heather will do a great job as the Minister of Police with his usual proactive approach to achieving targets.

Release of Dangerous Goods report
The Ministry of Internal Affairs has today released the 2010 Audit of Dangerous Goods Installation report that was prepared and finalised in November 2010 with the assistance of the New Zealand Department of Labour’s Technical Leader Hazardous Substances, Kim Comben.
The Secretary of Internal Affairs, Bredina Drollet, noted that the report represents a snapshot of compliance to standards as at June 2010 when the inspections were carried out. All sites inspected were provided with the outcome of those assessments after the report was finalised.
“Since the completion of the 2010 report, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has conducted ongoing investigations into the matters referred to in the report. Particular attention has focused on the operation of TOA Petroleum and Triad Pacific Petroleum”.
Drollet stated that the Ministry is satisfied that a number of improvements have been made following the recommendations of the report in relation to the two major fuel providers and while these improvements are not reflected in the 2010 report they have been relevant to the annual assessment for licensing.
“We have issued provisional licences to those dangerous goods facilities recognising that while there are some non-compliance issues, efforts have been made to address non-compliance and the risk to public safety is reasonably mitigated. Progress to full compliance remains a key priority and we are working with the major operators to ensure those standards are progressively met.”
With 29 years’ experience in the field of hazardous substance compliance, Kim Comben is currently the Technical Leader Hazardous Substances in the New Zealand Department of Labour, holds a Certificate of Proficiency in Dangerous Goods and a Certificate of Competency in Dealing with Improvised Explosive Device Clearance and is a specialist in hazardous substances storage, manufacture, transport, use and classification, especially in relation to explosives, gases, flammable liquids and oxidising materials.
The report is available online on the Government website www.cook-islands.gov.ck under news release.

From Takuvaine to London

Jason Potoru of Takuvaine, a lucky candidate from the Avarua Harbour Sea Scouts, has been selected to represent the Cook Islands in London for the regatta on the 3rd of June on the river Thames to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Jason will be the only Cook Islander in the New Zealand team and indeed in the entire fleet of about 1,000 vessels that will be proceeding down the river Thames.
Ron Bird, who orgainsed the NZ team’s participation, is confident that Jason has the potential to be taking part in this great event. It has been a 10 year project, and with the support of almost every department in government, this trip has been made possible for the young fifteen year old. The NZ crew will row a 20 foot long boat “The Shackleton.”
“I’m excited, but nervous at the same time,” Jason says, “and I’m looking forward to the challenge.” Jason has had intensive training sessions for the past three weeks, which involved kayaking, paddling, weightlifting and also a trip on the Kukupa. His talent was first spotted when he handled a yacht with the grace of an experienced sailor.
Jason expresses his thanks to Ron Bird, Tangi Tereapii and all of those who have supported him, both financially and mentally, for the trip to England. He departs on 28 May.
Incidentally, Ron Bird has been coming to the Cook Islands for many years initially to conduct training courses for Forklift Operators and other training. Bird is an expert in Port Safety and has a great interest in Sea Scouts.
We wish you all the best, Jason, and we hope that you do us, Cook Islanders, proud. -Norma Ngatamariki

Emile the attraction
The Staircase Restaurant and Bar has a special treat in store for all their potential customers.
Their Saturday night entertainment has been taken to the next level. Emile Rima, who holds the title of Raro Idol, has become the main event on the stage at the restaurant. Rima, who has already scored a recording contract, has been wooing the diners with his smooth vocals and will continue to do so throughout.
“It’s exactly what the customers are looking for,” Manager of Staircase Sisi Short told the Herald, “With a dining special of $18 for an a la carte menu partnered with the smooth voice of the Raro Idol, it’s the greatest entertainment deal that you can find in town. “
Although young Emile mainly sings for the younger audience, especially with his selection songs being modern age, there is also other entertainment for those “golden oldies” out there who wish to chill back with a bottle of beer and a good feed.
Local entertainment legends, Mann Short and Sonny Williams will join Emile Rima in the spotlight and sing for those who are of the older generation and who want their music at a slower pace.
“There will also be a Dine ‘n’ Dance theme going on,” explained Sisi, “It’ll be great for people who can’t keep still.” -Norma Ngatamariki

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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