HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

News Briefs

Prime Minister says “Thank you” to schools
On Tuesday morning Prime Minister Hon Henry Puna held a special function at his office where he expressed his sincere gratitude to the schools and students of Rarotonga who participated in the seamless ‘adopt a country’ programme for the Pacific Forum Leader’s meeting recently by rewarding them with an official day off school this coming Friday and presenting each school with a cheque of $1000. The Prime Minister suggested that they spend the money on a picnic or ice cream for the school on their official day off. With 10 primary schools and 3 colleges participating in the ‘adopt a country’ initiative, students were encouraged to engage and learn about the history, culture and language of their assigned country. So impressed were they by Rutaki Primary School’s efforts in singing and performing a Solomon Island song at the opening that the Solomon Island’s delegates presented the school with a cheque. Cabinet Ministers also attended the event. - By Maria Tanner

Opposition shunned by Government during Forum

The Prime Minister may not acknowledge this but I happen to know a lot of the Pacific Forum Country Leaders very, very well. I went to University with several of them and I fought with several of them against the European Trade Commissioners during Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations. In fact the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) but the Ministers of the Pacific sector stood with me, when I challenged Commissioner Peter Mandleson for treating the Pacific Ministers and negotiators in an unfair and prejudicial way. I was also a strong advocate at Forum meetings for the interests of Pacific Islands people at Forum meetings or dialogues and at regional and international meetings. Ask any staff member of the Forum Secretariat and other staff members of other regional and international organizations and they will tell you that I am one of the most able and likeable advocate for our people.
However, sadly, in fact very, very sadly the Government chose not to include the Opposition and in particular I as Leader in the Forum matters of substance. I’m not asking to be on the same table with the Leaders but at least be invited to dialogues where I or my team could share our experiences or equally learn from others. I went along to the Gender Dialogue without an invitation and was nearly stopped from entering the auditorium. At the back of my eye, I saw who I believed was the Forum Coordinator nod to the security for me to be allowed inside. A similar cursory insult of checking my eligibility to enter the auditorium to listen to the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton also happened. Inside the auditorium I saw a whole number of people from Non Government Organizations (NGOs) fully accredited and wearing ID cards but not a single Member of Parliament from the Opposition and Democratic Party was given any accreditation. My team told me that not one of them got any invites and my staff also told me of total shut out by the organizers of the Forum and those responsible for its running.
Isn’t it hypocritical of the Prime Minister and his Government to talk about working together and showing a face of unity to the dignitaries visiting our shores and yet, his fellow MP’s that he will need to work with were ignored? Don’t tell me he did not know because the buck was passed by his office to other Government Ministries such as Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs and so on. No-one will own up to it when asked and they all conveniently forgot. So much so that I received my invitation to the Forum Opening an hour before it began and when I checked with my team of MP’s my Deputy William got his invite around about the same time. Well, he would rather go and tend to his animals and plantation and of course I went to play touch rugby with the Golden Oldies in Nikao. I want people to know that I boycotted the Forum opening in solidarity with my colleagues in the Opposition.
I am pleased to say however that I kept my pledge which I made in my pre-Forum column in this paper that the Opposition will not challenge or criticize the Government while our visitors are on shore. But the Government did not reciprocate; instead it shunned and neglected us. The Prime Minister even left me out from the launching of the Marine Park despite my having giving my support for it and being the Minister that got Cabinet to approve the idea in the first instance.
While the issue of gender and women rights was prominent at the Forum meetings, the input of the two Democratic Party MPs, Aunty Mau and Selina Napa would have been monumental. Both these women are the prime examples of women that fought to get elected and for Aunty Mau for re-election several times. Surely you people must agree that it is better to hear it from those that lived the experience. Instead, they were totally discarded. Shame on the Government and Prime Minister. How can he and his Government be fighting for women rights and gender equality when he turns a blind eye to Opposition members?
Alright, I attended a dinner at Tamarinds with my wife but it was more at the request of a Minister from offshore who wanted to catch up with me both as a friend and political ally. I met up with the New Zealand Prime Minister and when I introduced myself to him, he said to me “I know exactly who you are, Wilkie Rasmussen.” I have travelled, dined and chatted with Mr Key, the PM of Samoa and Tonga and the Secretary-General of the Forum Mr Neroni Slade when I was Minister of Foreign Affairs and they were all pleased that we finally caught up. I’m sure they dismissed the Prime Minister’s treatment of me and my team as immature and petty. However, I feel and am much assured now that the Prime Minister feels upstaged whenever I am around. Well, let me say this, the way he is behaving, I get more determined to push him out of his office when some of his teammates come knocking on my door. -Leader of the Opposition, Wilkie Rasmussen

Moving on to new heights
Cook Islander Mailena Woonton-Rawiri has been appointed Personal Assistant to the CEO of Kiwi Bank in Wellington, New Zealand. She takes up her appointment on Monday. Mailena says her new appointment is a step up from her former job. She previously worked as Personal Assistant to the Secretary of the NZ Ministry for Culture and Heritage and prior to that was Personal Assistant to the Head of Legal Division at New Zealand Government Treasury. Mailena took 18 months leave of absence while at Treasury to work in Rarotonga as Personal Assistant to then Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon Wilkie Rasmussen. Mailena is the daughter of Shona Pitt and Andrew Woonton (deceased).-Charles Pitt

Commission’s new office officially opened

Marking the beginning of a new era the Office of the Public Service Commissioner (OPSC) officially opened the doors to its new downtown Avarua office on Wednesday morning. Located below the New Zealand High Commission, distinguished guests attending the event included landowner Dame Margaret Karika Ariki, president of the House of Ariki Travel Tou Ariki, Finance Minister Hon Mark Brown, Deputy Prime Minister Hon Tom Marsters, New Zealand High Commissioner John Carter, Associate Minister for Agriculture Kiriau Turepu and Leader of the Opposition Hon Wilkie Rasmussen. Also present was the immediate past Commissioner Navy Epati and several Heads of Ministries.
The event marks not just the opening but a series of milestones for the OPSC as expressed in the opening speech by Commissioner Russell Thomas, the launching of the official logo, a revamp of the OPSC website, the unveiling of the Maori plaque with the final revealing of an artwork from the staff of the office. -Maria Tanner

PM thanks Liason Officers, Drivers and Police
The Prime Minister Hon Henry Puna on behalf on government hosted a special thank you function at Te Atukura Park on Tuesday evening to thank the official liaison officers, drivers and police for their invaluable contribution to the 43rd Pacific Islands Leaders Forum meeting. Puna acknowledged the cumulative efforts of both Rarotonga and Aitutaki in helping to host the international leaders and delegates for the duration of their stay in the Cook Islands. Puna applauded the efficiency of the drivers, the hospitality of the liaison officers and the diligence of the police in working together to ensure the Forum ran as close to schedule as organised. –By Maria Tanner

Arts Trust seeks applications

The Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust is making it’s annual call for applications for their Tautai Trust Artist in Residence.
The five-week Residency is open to all Pacific Artists living outside New Zealand, providing for them the opportunity to meet and interact with the Pacific Arts community in New Zealand. The recipient will be “offered time and support to visit galleries and libraries, to utilize public institutions for their own research, to participate in the several Pacific related events held in Auckland, to network and make contacts that will assist them in continuing their art when they return home.
The Residency, which runs from February-March2013, includes return airfare, accommodation and a weekly stipend (for maximum of five weeks). Previous recipients of the Residency have been Solomon Islands artist Selwyn Palmer Teho and Hawaiian artist, Jordan Souza.
For a copy of the application form please email Mahiriki Tangaroa on mtangaroa@culture.gov.ck or for further information contact the Ministry of Cultural Development ph. 20725

The almost sleepover
You see, dear reader, I have this cousin. You may or may have not seen him before in one of the previous issues of the Herald. He was one of the vox pops that I did for a feature and apparently, he was on the Cook Islands News as well. His name is Justin Pokino and I know for a fact that he’d like to be mentioned in one of my articles (Because he loves the attention. Yup, my cousin is THAT kind of person. Lolz) and so, in tribute to him, I’d like to dedicate this article to Justin (Also, because I have absolutely nothing better to write about)
It wasn’t even planned, this little “adventure” of ours. We got off the bus stop at Tradewinds, like we always do and started walking home. I think it was when I mentioned something about “cooking dinner” that Justin got the crazy idea to pay a visit to my house. Oh well, I thought, there’s no getting out of this one. So we took a little detour to my house (I usually walk the long way, just to keep my cousin company. Aren’t I great?)
I gave him the “grand tour” of my house and tried to clean areas that were not-so-presentable as we went along the way. Shame! But he didn’t seem to mind the mess too much (for which I was relieved) We felt this sudden urge to snack on something, so I asked my mum for the bike (and surprisingly enough, she gave it) and we headed for the nearest shop. Stocking up on junk food seemed to be the only thing that we had on our minds. I grabbed the nearest chips and rushed along the aisle, in search of more fattening foods (Bad, eh?)
I’m not really used to having friends over, but it was a great “refreshment” (???) to have Justin around (because I’m usually stuck with the same old faces) Man, he sure did make himself comfortable at my house, but I was glad that he found it “homely”. He actually cooked a mind-blowing dinner for us and that was totally amazing! Justin taught me how to make this rice-mould thingy that really added an elegant touch to our food. We just had to take a photo of it, so we could, like, fawn over it later. And then we ate that lovely “creation”, but strangely enough, we were full on two pieces of chicken. Talk about papa ‘a portions.
After an intense workout with Beyonce’s Move Your Body, we settled down a bit and watched some re-runs of X-Factor. Just looking at Melanie Amaro (the winner of the X-Factor 2011) singing her version of Listen (also by Beyonce) inspired us to do our own little singing sessions. I didn’t expect cousin-dear to stay long, but we didn’t even notice the time! Justin asked if he could sleepover, but I think it was a bit too short noticed. All and all, it was an awesome “almost” sleepover. -Norma Ngatamariki

Athletics next week! Shoot me…
Thanks to a very persistent teacher and a Prefect with a pen, I am now doing the 100m sprints for the school Athletics next week! NO IT’S NOT COOL! Want to know why, because I can’t run…! I’ll probably look like a flouncing unicorn that’s trying to run after some magical dust in between two white lines.
That is exactly why I bravely entered Javelin, Discus and Shot Put instead! I know, I can’t throw like hulk either, but I’d rather fling a stick and a ball around instead of looking like a unicorn. BUT OH WELL! I will just suck it up, put on my army cap (Our theme is army, cause you know Green House…) and just smile and run like it was all my idea! After all, it’s just for fun…
I’m not even sure I know how to throw a Discus properly, but I joined anyway because I knew how to play Frisbee, and a Discus looks a little like a Frisbee, and I like playing Frisbee, so I thought ‘hey, it’s just a really heavy Frisbee, shouldn’t be too hard’ …But on the day I’ll probably be like ‘What the heck were you thinking Dante…this Discus is not a Frisbee’
JAVELIN! I did javelin last year, and it was ok, I don’t know if there are any real rules to it or not, I just know that if you throw your stick thing the furthest, you win! And that’s it.
Shot Put, now I know that involves a really heavy ball, and you have to throw that as well, I swear I will grow muscles after these Athletics! (Probably not, but you never know!) And if you throw it the furthest, you win again! Simple.
Imagine me trying to do High Jump...I can’t even doing a proper Star-Jump, (Yeah, I actually tried to do a Star-Jump for a photo for someone, it failed, miserably) so if people expect me to fly over a beam that’s like two meters high, they’re insane.
Long Jump isn’t one of my strong suits either; funny enough I actually used to be pretty good at Long Jump and High Jump when I was younger!! And now I’m useless at both events! Gosh I feel old…
Anyway, we have some really good runners and Shot Putters, and ‘Javeliniers’ or whatever you want to call them in our House, so whether I do the event or not, its those talented guys that will lead our house into victory! I’m just being a good Senior Student and participating in the very last school Athletics I will ever be apart of, after this year!
Considering that, I’m just hoping that this day will be seriously hyped up, enthusiastic and FUN! After all, how many more times are you going to be able to dress up in an army outfit, carry around a $2.50 plastic gun and try out sports you’ve never done before your life! Well I’ve only got this one last year to do so, so I’m going to dress up in an army outfit, carry my gun around and try out sports I’ve never done before in my life! It will be awesome! -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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