HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

PM holds talks with Mayor over dispute
The Prime Minister Hon. Henry Puna met with the Tongareva Mayor Tini Ford on Tuesday morning to listen to the concerns of those who chose not to travel home at the weekend, and to open the door to constructive discussion. The Prime Minister said ‘side-line critics’ have not understood the circumstances at the time and it was important that he and the Mayor provide leadership on resolving outstanding matters.
“I’m glad the Mayor accepted my request to talk because this depends on us as leaders to work things through,” said the PM.
“Clearly, there was a lot of confusion at the time, and to say that I had meddled to favour things is ridiculous.”
Unfortunately, some chose to see it differently and distort the facts, he said. The PM had no part in selecting or directing cargo loading.

It has now been confirmed by the Ministry of Culture that the following points are the salient facts in the Penrhyn Saga.

• All four islands were allocated 40 tons of cargo. This was agreed to by all island representatives.
• The allocation was split between reefer space (frozen) and dry goods cargo. Two reefers on board allowed the four islands to share a quarter of the total reefer space available – 25% each or 20 tons out of their 40 ton allotment.
• Rakahanga, Pukapuka, Manihiki, and Penrhyn all utilized the reefer space with 20 tons each, loaded on board.
• All islands had varying amounts of reefer cargo turned away due to the restrictions, which were strictly enforced by a designated and experienced staff member from the Ministry of Culture. That staff member travelled with the vessel.
• Rakahanga, Pukapuka, and Manihiki also boarded the remaining 20 tons of their respective allocated cargo.
• Penrhyn chose not to load its remaining 20 tons of cargo because its allocation had been determined to be in excess. The excess was complicated by the presence of 22 freezers packed with dry goods. No other island had additional freezers.
• Penrhyn initially requested voyage space for 70 freezers to travel to Rarotonga – for storage purposes. The eventual reduction to 22 presented a last minute complication that could have been avoided if the island had had the benefit of its own reefer. Two islands, Manihiki and Rakahanga, have their own reefer thanks to funding support from the two MPs from those islands.
• Penrhyn was advised that its cargo had to be prioritized in order to meet the cap of 20 tons of remaining space. Cargo could be loaded but had to be substituted if exceeding the cap.
• The vessel has a total operating capacity of 298 tons – passengers and cargo. Increasing the number of passengers means decreasing the amount of cargo – in order to remain within safety limits. All islands, except Rakahanga, had additional numbers to the passenger list.
• The refusal by Penrhyn to stay within the limit resulted in a withdrawal from the voyage. The 20 tons of reefer-packed cargo remained on board. This left an available cargo capacity of 20 tons to be filled.
• The refusal to travel then allowed cargo management to permit the last minute addition of loose dry goods from the three travelling islands. All three took the opportunity to quickly add to their respective dry goods.
• The Prime Minister did not have any cargo designated to him or his business in Manihiki.
• All business-related cargo orders had already been disallowed by the Ministry of Culture, in advance. Business cargo was cancelled or excluded from this voyage.

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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