HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Loyalty and love for the Democratic Party
Yesterday was a significant day for the Democratic Party. It elected a new leader and hardworking office bearers and deserving patrons. It also examined some constitutional issues that could make efficient the decision making process of the party and its executives.
However what stood out for me was the one sentence phrase recited by a long time and staunch supporter of the Demo’s. He said after a moment of silence that he “Loves his party”. Another speaker added the word “Democratic Party”. And a third speaker reinforced this sentiment with the word “Loyalty”. In fact the passionate and emotional expressions by such people captured the mood of the conference despite some early tension in relation to procedures and rules.
At the conference, I called for unity towards a vision and the common goal of wrestling away the treasury from the current Government. My message was simple and that nothing is impossible and we can do it. That message was also reinforced by the President - elect of the Democratic Party Mr Sean Willis in his address. He reminded the conference of the eventual year we have had in 2012 with the passing away of several of our great leaders, Sir Terepai Maoate and Hon Robert Wigmore. He also asked people for reflection in the memory of a number of people with strong ties to the party that had died in the past months.
Most importantly, the President rallied the Executive and issued to them the challenge of working hard and with purpose to win the next election. He and I shared with the conference views that the Democratic Party is planning and working towards building a robust economy, achieve better standard of living, education and health for our people.
The conference heard wise advice for the constituencies or “punas” to source candidates that will serve them with pride and dignity and who will be able to operate at all levels, from the village to the international stage. It also heard encouragement for more women candidates to represent the party. And tribute was paid to the only two women parliamentarians in the Cook Islands being from the Democratic Party. Women power being a favourite slogan of the day by the Master of Ceremony, re-elected Vice President George Hosking.
As the Leader of the Democratic Party, I am very happy with the outcome of the conference and with the election of my Deputy William Heather Jnr, otherwise known as the gentle giant and my good friend “Smiley”. I am also very happy with the re-election of Sean Willis as President, Eddie Drollet as Secretary – General and the new Treasurer Piltz Napa, from a family with a strong and deep tradition in the Democratic Party. We welcomed into the Demo’s Tupou Faireka as one of the three Vice Presidents. This is a coup for the Demo’s because Tupou had been one the warriors of the CIP in the past but mistreatment by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet of a former Minister, senior public servant with high qualifications pushed him to join an “engaging party”, as he calls it.
Lastly, our party is patronized by long-serving Nikao MP Aunty Mau, former Speaker Papa Mapu Taia and another one of our women warriors, former Takuvaine MP, Mama Ngai. With this line up of people, we know that the Democratic Party is in safe hands as we move towards the next general elections. Thank you to all the delegates that came from all the constituencies and to the people that fed the conference attendees. Thanks once again for putting your faith in me and the “A” team. Go Demo Way! -Leader of the Opposition, Wilkie Rassmusen

Hard work paying off with energy returns
This week, I had the pleasure of hosting the blessing of a new solar PV panel project, and launch of the Cook Islands Renewable Energy policy framework. These developments are contributing to the ongoing progress of our energy plans for the future, and represent the input of collaborative efforts by a dedicated team.
As we well know, power systems are an integral part of a nation’s infrastructure, and Energy in particular, is a key component of economic growth and success. Renewable energy and the integration of new power sources into the electricity mix present wide-ranging opportunities for the Cook Islands, and I’m pleased to say that we are better able to demonstrate how solar power will transform our lives and generate benefits.
Energy diversification and increasing the share of renewable energy is important to our future economic growth because it will help breakdown our dependence on fossil fuel and improve our energy security. Environmentally of course, we know that we are doing everything we can to preserve our livelihood and heritage.
Implementing projects like the new installation at the Office of the Prime Minister are concrete steps forward in transforming our power system. Our first key steps however, were to ensure we established the right framework.
The RE Targets helped provide that catalyst – that motivation – to take bold steps. Renewed energy policies and priorities followed, which added value to the framework by clearly articulating our intent to work hard toward the goals.
The Renewable Energy Chart, Implementation Plan, and Island Specific Plan, reflect that hard work, and the inclusion of renewable energy into a new national priority for Energy Security under the NSDP helps ground initiatives like this with an added firmness.
Cooperative efforts on this and other forthcoming projects, especially in the Outer Islands, show just how important it is that we continue to value our close working relationships with New Zealand and other partners. In fact, the network of ties and bringing people together under the Energy sector is crucial. For that reason we shall soon have the benefit of an Energy Commissioner to help oversee our future developments. And we are grateful for New Zealand’s keen interest in joining us to build a common approach.
The Cook Islands can’t travel this road alone and I’d like to thank the New Zealand High Commissioner for his role in contributing to the ongoing success and realisation of energy projects. He has his own unlimited, ‘renewable supply’ of energy and we are grateful for his input to our national objectives.
We have much to do in the years ahead but I’m happy to say that the team-building and cooperation is achieving results, thanks to all the hard work to turn the sun’s energy into a brighter future for us all. -Prime Minister Henry Puna

Penrhyn umukai for northern tere parties
Leader of the Opposition and Penrhyn MP, Wilkie Rasmussen, advised the Herald on Wednesday afternoon that the Samoan vessel Lady Naomi arrived at Penrhyn on Tuesday and while no –one from Penrhyn got off, the vessel offloaded frozen food which will be stored in freezers until the people come from Rarotonga.
As was the case last year, Penrhyn is the first stop for the northern islanders returning from Te Maeva Nui celebrations on Rarotonga.
Rasmussen said he had heard from the Island Secretary and Councilors that on arrival some 200 northerners and ship’s crew came ashore at Omoka where the 50 odd population left put on a big umukai which was several days in preparation. Everyone was warmly welcomed and had a big feed.
Rasmussen said there were no grudges born against the other northerners, everyone was happy.
Rasmussen said the Penrhyn tere party which is still on Rarotonga, was concerned at the way everything was organized. -Charles Pitt

Mani graduates from Executive Development Institute in Hawaii
The Executive Development Institute for Tourism (EDIT) programme was conducted over 11 days with 22 lectures and industry members from across different areas of Tourism. Each speaker spoke around three (3) main areas in Tourism; International Destination Marketing, Product Development and Government Administration Models and Structure & Tourism Policy.
The course offered by the School of Travel Industry Management in cooperation with Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) was very thorough and beneficial both personally and professional and using Hawaii as a learning base of Tourism was a great example for us participants to learn from Hawaii Tourism’s challenges, successes, failures and future plans on Tourism in Hawaii.
My impression of the programme at first was quite nerve raking as I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However over the 11 days I learnt a tremendous amount from each speaker and was able to relate many of the topics to Tourism in the Cook Islands. Each speaker gave me the tools to improve the way we conduct tourism in the Cook Islands, including Online Marketing, Policy making, building on Niche Markets, understanding Sustainable Tourism and several others. One tool that stood out for me that relates to my current role was the ability to manage posts on Facebook and Twitter using an online programme called Hootsuite which I have implemented when I arrived back into the Cook Islands. This tool has made managing our Social Media a lot easier and has open more time for me to focus on other improvements for our organisation.
I also had the opportunity to build long lasting relationships with my colleagues from around the world who came from Abu Dhabi, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore and also got to learn about Tourism in their countries and how I can apply some of their experiences to Tourism in the Cook Islands.
Our host Rachel Soma and her team were very helpful and hospitable throughout our time prior to arriving to Hawaii and during our time in Hawaii including pre information for the programme, organising of my accommodation, daily transportation to and from the University of Hawaii, the Welcome Cocktail Reception held at the Hilton Waikiki Beach, an amazing weekend trip to Maui and our Graduation ceremony at the Moana Surfrider.
My experiences and relationships I have established at EDIT would not have been possible without the tremendous support from PATA and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for accepting me as the successful applicant for a PATA scholarship. -By Christian Mani, Cook Islands Tourism Corporation

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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