HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

First Lady Puna urges commitment to deliver China pearl grant materials
The First Lady Akaiti Puna has urged all parties involved in a one million dollar grant of pearl farming materials to Manihiki to deliver upon their commitment to the development initiative.
The call to help spur on the re-generation and growth of the industry in the Northern Group was made during a tour of JESSN Company based in Ningbo City by the Ministerial delegation visiting China. The delegation is led by Minister for Marine Resources Hon. Teina Bishop.
Drawing on her experience as a pearl farmer in Manihiki, Mrs Puna noted that the situation for pearl farmers continues to deteriorate on the islands.
“The people are living in hardship and they will continue leaving the Island unless they get the necessary support”, she said.
Her comments were supported by the Mayoress of Manihiki Ngamata Napara, who is on the delegation.
JESSN was identified by the Cook Islands to produce pearl farming materials because of the company’s reputation for quality. The owner of the company gave the delegation a tour of the factory where the equipment is made.
The company specialises in outfitting fishing vessels and has a commitment from Chinese fishing operators to deliver the materials directly to Manihiki – free of freight charges. The volume of materials requires fifteen shipping containers and free delivery would save Government hundreds of thousands of dollars in freight charges and delays in transits.
The grant was originally approved by Cabinet in November 2011. Timelines for delivery were initially set to coincide with the arrival of the exploratory fishing vessels into the Cook Island’s waters in April 2012, as these vessels would carry the materials.
During the Ministerial visit to China, the Luen Thai Company has given a commitment that its carrier vessel will deliver the materials if it can be procured within the time frame of the departure of the carrier, which is only a few months away.
Secretary of Marine Resources, Ben Ponia will meet the government authorities in Beijing to see if a solution can be found that will meet the carrier vessel schedule.
The delegation’s visit to China included a tour of pearl research site on the outskirts of Shanghai operated by the Shanghai Ocean University where they were able to observe the pearl cultivation and farming techniques of freshwater pearls.
One of the highlights was a visit to Zuhji City, which is known as the Pearl City because it is the centre for pearl wholesale trade where the majority of the 15,000 tonnes of Chinese pearls and imported pearls are sold. A lot of fresh water pearls are also produced in this region.
The delegation was introduced to the Chairlady of the Pure Pearl Group, which is one of the major operators of the central market, and whom expressed an interest in reviewing the marketing strategy of the Cook Islands.
Discussions centred on the possibility of a visit by Shanghai Ocean University to discuss opportunities for technical cooperation and representatives from Zuhji market to look at market opportunities.
In her concluding remarks, the First Lady pointed out the importance of pearl farming to the people of Manihiki.
“This is not just a grant, it is livelihoods that are at stake” she said.

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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