HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Maria Tanner spends 5 minutes with ... Utia Makiiti
On a chilly Parisian day during the depths of the heightened ‘clean green’ global revolution that swept not just the eighties, but the world with its influence, the UNESCO committee officially declared Lord Howe Island inscribed to the World Heritage List acknowledging the islands “rare collection of plants, birds, marine life and exceptional natural beauty.” Some thirty years down the track from that historic moment in time the Cook Islands Herald speak to the man responsible for maintaining a delicate eco system with a finesse.
Born and breed of quality Cook Island stock, at the age of 20 Utia Makiiti had not the slightest inkling that his life was about to make a drastic turn, “I had no idea at the time that my father and brother had organized something, but here I was, my father handed me a one way ticket and told me “son you’ll be leaving the island,” Makiiti says smoothing his calloused hands over his shorts. Making his way to greener pastures Utia left his humble Mangaian roots to relocate to his recently married and older brother Tangi, to of all places, Lord Howe Island, where a life in horticulture awaited him. “It was a shock to my system, there was no prior talk about it but I went along with the plan and took with me the basic knowledge of what we do here, our planting.”
As the Senior Field officer of the Lord Howe Island Nursery Utia spent thirteen dedicated years to maintaining an array of native flora and fauna, sowing and cultivating indigenous seedlings with a particular focus on the Kentia Palm, which in 1997 saw the nursery receive its Quality Management System Certification. However for the past four years Utia has been reigning under the proud title of Care Taker to Lord Howe Islands, “What exactly does that entail?” he laughs thinking long and hard, “It means I keep it in near perfect condition,” he says explaining to me the islands impressive waste systems, green waste implementations and relocation shipping of non recyclable wastes. “It just an education thing,” the self proclaimed but otherwise converted ‘hypocrite’ shares with me, “I was!” he continues noting my disbelief, “and this is why I it, it’s not only changed me but it’s changed the way that I look at our environment.”
With tourism being the major industrial contributor to the small thriving community of only 350, Lord Howe Is and the Cook Islands draw very near similarities Utia subtly brings to my attention. With a maximum quota of 400 tourist visiting the idyllic ‘nature retreat’ at any one time their ‘clean green’ image is an attainable goal, “We really aren’t falsifying any of our marketing strategies,” Makiiti assures. -Maria Tanner

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.