HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

News Briefs

Welcome to Forum Pacific Leaders
I understand that leaders and officials from Pacific Forum countries will start arriving into the Rarotonga in the next couple of days. The first meeting which is confined only to the Polynesian country leaders is scheduled to start this coming Saturday, therefore kicking off the series of meetings. Next week the leaders will retreat to Aitutaki where they will be hosted on One foot Island.
As the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and the Democratic Party, I along with my deputy William (Smiley) Heather and our caucus of Members of Parliament along with staff at the Opposition extend a warm welcome to our guests. I also extend this greeting on behalf of all the Democratic Party supporters here on Rarotonga and all around the Cook Islands.
Since the announcement last year after the last Forum meeting in Auckland that the Cook Islands will be the host country of the Forum meetings and Ministerial dialogues, the Opposition has been warm to the honour and has stayed away from it as an issue of critique against the Government. Instead, we have pledged that the Government and the Opposition needs to be united in our efforts to showcase the Cook Islands to these leaders and the many other people visiting us with various investment interests in our people and country. Hence, the Opposition enjoins the Government in a loud and warm “Kia Orana” to our friends.
However, one must always be wary that these gatherings do not end being dismissed as just another major “talkfest” with very little outcomes and benefits. I have attended a number of Forums when I was Minister of Foreign Affairs and have felt the frustration of making inputs into such meetings only to end up as unimplemented. A major feature of the Forum is very much that it has still a lot of decisions to implement and it does not have much clout.
Fiji is one country that has continued on its own agenda despite the Forum denouncing that country and requesting for Fiji to comply with Forum country rules. The impending issue for Fiji for such a long time was the holding of democratic and free elections (free of military intervention). Threats had been issued to Fiji, boycotts against military aligned Fijians en-route through Australia and New Zealand but Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama is still setting his country’s own timeframe and roadmap. It appears Fiji is prospering and has entered into strong partnerships with countries like the People’s Republic of China.
French Polynesia is the other country that I believe the Forum has been weak on and probably in fear of the might of the French Government. The Maohi reference to French Polynesia as “Tahiti Nui” is clearly a sign of a people wanting independence from a colonizing country but the Forum has not made any substantial decision for Tahiti Nui such as admitting it in as a full member of the Forum. I really do not believe there will be any major ramifications if this happens and the Pacific is now in the 21st century, so surely there should be some allowance for Tahiti Nui to have a voice free of censorship by its political masters.
Anyway, I wish the Prime Minister and his team a happy and productive Forum and will wait until after the Forum when the Democratic Party will mount a relentless campaign to win Government back in 2014 or 2015. -Leader of the Opposition, Wilkie Rasmussen

Team Forum together as one
As we enter the final week of our of preparations to host the most important gathering of the year for the Leaders of the Pacific, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to all the members of ‘Team Forum’ – those involved at all levels of the national effort to ensure that the forthcoming 43rd Pacific Islands Leaders’ Forum is a great success. To you all, I give thanks for the hard work and your contributions toward the planning, operations, and policy development involved in supporting this major event.
Both Rarotonga and Aitutaki are poised and ready. And Team Forum is to be commended not just for putting in the ‘hard yards’ to get to this point but also in taking the responsibility to pull together as one. I am pleased that the effort made, and the commitment taken on board, is showing in many ways.
Although there are obviously so many to thank, it’s important to note at this stage that I have every confidence in all the individuals, who are part of the team – no matter what the role. That means from the very young at school right through to our most seasoned policy advisors, who have stepped forward to be a part of history in-the-making.
We will inscribe ourselves in the history books. Of that, I have no doubt. The Pacific region itself is the focus of global attention for the richness of its diversity and resources, and the wealth of its peoples, who share a commonality of spirit in preserving their way of life under a union of culture, traditions, language. This Pacific spirit is at the core of our theme this year. We are large ocean island states, and we are the custodians and stewards who must ensure our part of the world prospers under long-lasting peace and security.
The forthcoming week of meetings will inject substance into this theme and I shall be inviting our guests – my fellow Leaders of the Pacific, and our various development partners – to rise up to the ‘Pacific Challenge’.
Prior to the Forum and its related meetings, I will be hosting the Second Polynesian Leaders’ Group meeting, at the weekend. This newly-formed bond among the Polynesian states is representative of how closely the Cook Islands is committed to building strong working relations among our Island nations, and how we will add further support and encouragement to an exciting week.
Already, our people have demonstrated a keen national togetherness in ‘Team Forum’ and I am positive that our true hospitality and generosity will reach out and embrace all our Pacific peoples, and very special guests, in the days ahead. -Prime Minister Henry Puna

Forum Leader’s spouses will also have a busy schedule
While the Pacific Leaders have their hands full next week with their Forum meeting, their spouses will be kept busy and occupied with a programme that has been put together by First Lady Akaiti Puna with the help of Rosie Blake.
Speaking to the Herald on Tuesday morning, Puna said a spouses programme has been organized which will see the Leader’s spouses taken on sightseeing trips, being entertained and visiting places of interest such as Maraes and the historic Avana launching area of the canoes to New Zealand and treated to lunches.
Puna said Monday will be a free day. On Tuesday the spouses will board a bus and be taken sightseeing. At the Crown Beach Resort they will be treated to lunch, a fashion show and a display of pearls. On Wednesday, they will visit the Punanga Nui Market, meet the local women, see stalls of interest with local arts and crafts, tivaevae and other products. There will also be a fashion show, music and lunch provided.
On Wednesday afternoon the spouses will travel to Aitutaki.
On Aitutaki the spouses will visit a primary school then will visit the College where all primary schools will also gather. There will be a presentation of prizes for the essay competition, entertainment and an opportunity for the children to ask questions of the spouses. This is expected to be a major highlight of the whole programme.
The spouses will then undertake a lagoon cruise and join the Leaders for lunch.
Puna said each spouse will be presented with a gift pack and handmade crafts. She also hopes to host partners/spouses of those outside of the Forum Leaders group such as from Tahiti and other countries.
Rosie Blake said the spouses will travel as a group by bus. -Chalres Pitt

Up-skilling for Climate Change negotiations
On Monday the Climate Change Division based at the Prime Minister’s Office, held a half day workshop for those officials who may be involved with negotiations on Climate Change at upcoming meetings overseas.
It will help them to better understand the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) processes and climate change issues of concern to the Cook Islands. The workshop was conducted with input from SPREP-the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.
Participating from SPREP were Nanette Woonton, Media and Public Relations Officer and Diane McFadzien, Climate Change Adaptation Adviser. Present for the Climate Change Division were Anna Tiraa, Director and Ewan Cameron, Interim Climate Change Coordinator.
Matters covered during the workshop included; Introduction to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, Introduction to the Negotiations Process, Preparing for the Negotiations, Conference of the Parties (COP), Networking at the COP, Media Skills, Organisation of Documentation and Overview of National Priorities in the Negotiations. -Charles Pitt

Preventing fish poisoning
Esther Honey foundation has had a recent spate of fish poisoning in animals.
Director Gregg Young advised the Herald on Monday that this past week, he has recorded an additional 7 cases- 6 dogs and 1 cat, a big jump from the 2 recorded cases of the prior week. Young advised that the fish poisoning cases are all at varying stages and said symptoms in animals can include the inability to walk straight or walking ‘wobbly’, while some animals may stop eating altogether due to a tightening in the throat muscles restricting the ability to eat, groaning however is a sure sign that animals have fish poisoning.
Recovery periods depend on the extremity of the case and can require from 1 week to 3 months of intensive case. Signs of recovery include the ability to walk or crawl as muscles regain mobility, and an increased appetite.
While there isn’t any available medication, animals are nursed through their recovery and Young says that fish poisoning in pets can be avoided with a few simple steps. Making sure that your pets are tied up, or fenced in and not roaming lessens their chance of foraging in the water and potentially eating poisonous fish. -Maria Tanner

PM welcomes new Commissioner aboard
The Prime Minister Hon. Henry Puna has welcomed Energy Commissioner Roger de Bray to his new post, signalling another positive step forward in the Government’s strengthening priority for the sector.
“The appointment is a key part of our efforts to bring the threads of the Energy sector together under a coordinated and cooperative framework,” the Prime Minister said today.
Mr. de Bray heads a new Office, which was established in June with the passing of a legislative amendment. The new Act provides for a single head of authority to oversee the Energy sector in terms of its regulatory functions, policy development, and development initiatives.
The Commissioner, therefore, is expected to work closely with all stakeholders, including Te Aponga Uira, electrical trades, and policy and planning offices such as the Renewable Energy Development Division of the Office of the Prime Minister. Mr de Bray is responsible direct to the Prime Minister as the Minister of Energy.
A key focus in the role will be to assist the Government in achieving its RE goals, and furthering the efforts to improve national energy security.
Mr. de Bray has over 20 years of experience in the Electricity industry in New Zealand.
He was Chief Executive of Top Energy based in Northland of NZ. This company owns and operates the distribution of electricity to 55,000 customers. It has developed and owned generation providing 75% of local energy requirements.

Easy like a Sunday morning
I usually start my Sundays by waking up at the luxurious hour of ten o’clock, discovering that a banquet of food has been laid out on the table before me and just lazing around basically. It’s how I’ve spent every Sunday for the past year. That’s just how it is with me. I can’t get up early enough to go to church, no matter how hard I try and I made an attempt to try and help my mum cook once (which resulted in me falling asleep when the pot was on the stove. I had to eat that burnt meal. Blah!) But this Sunday, I was determined to make a change in my weekly routine.
Three days before, my cousin, Justin and I had made arrangements so that I could visit his church. We talked about it for a bit, and I finally agreed (after, like, an hour of him trying to persuade me) to attend a church service. Then, if things went by as planned, we could head off to the waterfall (which really grabbed my attention) Now, this meant that I had to scour my wardrobe for something proper to wear to church!
I didn’t plan on asking my parents until the night before. It usually works when I ask them last minute (not always, though) so I kind of waited it out until it was the “right moment”. I have to do things according to my mother’s mood, so that I don’t get a negative response. I wait until she’s had a happy day at work and offer to help her and stuff, then I grab the opportunity and ask. I was pretty sure that she was going to say yes anyway, because it was for church. But just in case, I did everything that she asked of me and tried my best not to complain.
On Saturday night, I had to arrange my clothes and try to get to bed early at the same time! For me, that’s like, mission impossible, because I’m used to sleeping at two (or even three) in the morning. It’s just a habit (one that I have to break during the weekdays) I kept on getting distracted by so many things, like the movies playing on my hard drive (why I didn’t turn it off in the first place, I don’t know), the smell of my mother’s cooking AND the fact that my dad was cutting the grass right outside my room! Disturbing much!
So I didn’t have the most peaceful night’s sleep, but for some reason, I felt fresh and rejuvenated. It must be the work of the Lord, I thought to myself. I looked at my phone and saw that another cousin of mine was joining in. I was thrilled because Nga was going to come with us to church. Justin brought the car around soon, we were off to church. Everything was an amazing experience, the beautiful hymns, the kind people greeting you as well as the presentations. It was nice to see that everybody was really passionate about it. I might just change my usual Sunday habits because of this experience. -Norma Ngatamriki

It’s Nearly Over!
This year is going by extremely fast, it seemed like only yesterday when we were all talking about how ‘the world was going to blow up next year’ and how next year will be our VERY LAST YEAR of high school! And now, as we approach September, the year 2012 is nearing its end, and before long we’ll be raising our glasses at Sails and screaming like stupid people with our friends at the fireworks as the clock hits the New Year! 2013!!!
As much as I cannot wait to ditch the school uniform and leave Tereora forever, (that sounds a little bit harsh, but I can’t describe it any better) I know I will miss high school as soon as I’m gone! Almost every senior will! (I say ‘almost’ because I do know of a couple of students who’d be like ‘HELL YEAH ITS OVER’)
But the people you used to sit behind everyday in your Math class, or how you’d rush to a particular computer in ICT, or crazily jumping up and down after you got a try in PE….and the moments you share with your friends at lunchtimes, the gossip you hear during classes, the notes you’d throw at each other across the room, the teachers always telling you off for something which you now find really funny, its these things that we’ll miss.
I won’t miss standing in line at the canteen for hours just to get a drink, or the crazy amounts of homework, or the ear banging alarms in the mornings, because lets face it, that’s just not awesome.
But this year is the last year before we really become independent adults, off to create our future, off to meet new people, travel to new places, experience new things and finally see the world!!
No more teachers running around after you trying to get you finish this and that, no more detentions for being late, (HALLELUJAH) and just no more high school!
But I do know only too well that at the end of the year at our senior prize giving, the very last time that we’ll all be on that stage together will definitely bring tears to our year 13’s (probably only among the girls) but I also know that we’ll be screaming and yelling at the end of it celebrating the fact that WE ARE DONE WITH HIGH SCHOOL! It’s really sad but REALLY AWESOME at the same time! This kind of brings me back to when we were seniors at Nukutere, and how we felt when we were leaving the school, only this time it’s different because we’re leaving this school, and not going to a different high school! Its time to show off our skills at Uni, or in the work force, or begin creating the future we’ve been dreaming of!
So guys, make the most of this year! It’s OUR last year, and while you keep looking at the clock, impatiently waiting for the bell to ring, remember to slow down a little and take time to make your last year of High School, you’re very BEST AND AMAZING year of High School! -Dante Numa

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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