HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

News Briefs

Government: Deaf to our woes
It is now official. This Government does not give a damn about your opinions and concerns. If anything it will continue to grind away at the issues raising alarm bells and this attitude is led by the Prime Minister who said “There might be a possible conflict of interest,” when Minister of Marine Resources hires a top notch from Luen Thai as his advisor. Luen Thai is the company the Minister and Ministry of Marine Resources recently granted fishing licenses to in order to enable its ships to fish in our waters.
To me, this is an incredibly feeble comment by the PM who again and again shows weakness when dealing with “time-bomb” Bishop over fundamental matters. When the PM said “might” and also that he “believes Bishop will do the right thing”, we all might as well turn off the light and go to sleep. It seems that the PM, as leader of the country, is fending off and dodging matters of fisheries that have been publicly criticized by a number of people virtually since this Government came into office. It forces me to say that he would rather sing, dance and travel rather than face up and make hard decisions.
I for one, even from the benches of the Opposition am very wary as to the consistency, urgency and impending catastrophe being raised by the arguments being made against Bishop and Secretary of Marine Resources Ben Ponia. Well, Bishop is not listening, Ponia has turned a deaf ear and now the PM has wavered. From there you bet your last dollar that the Cabinet and Government will just nod in silent agreement with PM Puna and Minister Bishop. It’s a bit like the proverbial cartoon of the ostrich that buries its head in the sand to avoid seeing what’s happening around it. But for our PM, he would rather sing, dance and globe trot first class and mix with beautiful people.
How can it not be a conflict when you have someone that will directly benefit from the arrangement advising the Minister naturally about fishing? The mind boggles.
No doubt the PM and his Ministers have been bitten by the travel bug and believe it is very hard to shake off. Indeed, the now public travel of the PM’s wife, paid for by a foreign company with serious plans to forage in the Cook Islands, has now lifted the standards. Spouses are now part and parcel of a Minister’s travel not a one trip per year with the Minister any more. Foreign companies offer to pay fares all the time for Government Ministers and I would be cautious that it does not obligate the Government to accommodate requests by that company. Well, the PM is letting it happen, in fact leading it. It is dicing with corruption – possible envelopes under the table because the Ministers and their wives will be dined, wooed, given presents and then required to reciprocate. This is absolutely true.
How hard is it to listen to the fears of Cook Islanders, our people? We are concerned about poor and corrupt police officers, high rate of burglary, high bank interest rates crippling the economy, higher taxes, poor shipping, and possible redundancies and many, many more day to day issues but the PM ducks under the radar and jets off to New York, far, far away from our woes. -Leader of the Opposition, Wilkie Rasmussen

Penrhyn’s day will come
Penrhyn’s economic future will be centred around its airstrip, a large one (10,000 feet long compared to Rarotonga airport’s 7,638 feet) built by the Americans in 1942 and used by them up to 1946.
When Kurt Meyer was NZ High Commissioner, some $300,000 which had been earmarked by NZAID to upgrade the navigational equipment at Penrhyn airport was withdrawn because someone at NZAID could not see what economic potential existed at Penrhyn. Sir Geoffrey Henry who was then leader of the opposition lodged a strong protest with Meyer.
It is not difficult to visualize the economic benefit to Penrhyn of an upgraded airport. The majority of the tuna catch is in the north. Frozen tuna could be air freighted from Penrhyn direct to the USA or Asia. Penrhyn is closer to those markets than Rarotonga. -Charles Pitt

Surveying the coast
Coastal Engineers from the University of New South Wales Water Research Laboratory (Australia) will be working around Avarua and Nikao next week. The engineers will be moving through the area with GPS surveying equipment, measuring ground levels. The surveying will be undertaken on foot, with a cart, or from a car for different areas.
This information will be used as a part of a much larger project being undertaken for Climate Change Cook Islands. The project, titled “Coastal Adaptation Needs for Extreme Events and Climate Change”, is being undertaken to assess the vulnerability of houses and infrastructure in the Avarua area to extreme cyclone events, and the impact that climate change will have.
The engineers from UNSW will be working with the office of the Prime Minister’s Climate Change division, and local engineer Ben Parakoti.
The better the access that the engineers are given to public and private land will mean better results from the study, so people are encouraged to let the engineers collect data around yards, houses, and shops if possible. If you see the engineers around feel free to ask them about this interesting project. - Release

Achievement rewarded
Family and friends gathered last week to celebrate 2 milestone achievements for Teina Rongo who turned 40 ( joining that illustrious group of naughty 40’s) but more importantly, to recognize his academic achievement in graduating PhD (doctoral degree) which allows him to be officially referred to as Dr Teina Rongo.
Although the function was kept to just close family, a family spokesperson said that it was a special event given Dr Rongo was the first member of his family to graduate with a doctorate degree in Marine Biology. “As a family, we are especially proud because he has set an academic precedence for others to follow and has become a role model not only for us but for the Cook Islands as a whole.”
In acknowledging those present, Dr Rongo especially made mention of his mother who passed away earlier this year. He said she was an influential person in his life and through both his parents, he learnt never to give up and to set your goals in life and to go out and achieve them. He only wished she could be here to celebrate with him on this memorable occasion and this occasion was in her honour.
Dr Rongo also explained that this achievement was not an easy one. He had to cope with many obstacles and frustrations along the way and thought about giving up on several occasions but it was the soothing and maternal approach from his mum which gave him the will and determination to continue. Financially it was hard but he acknowledged the support of his family and close friends who encouraged him to continue the challenge to succeed.
“Would I do it all again? I don’t know,” was Dr Rongo’s response,” I have come to realize that you cannot rely on anyone in order to achieve. And that you’ve got to do it yourself. I’ve valued the support given to me from family and friends but the real challenge is how do I use this qualification to justify their trust and confidence in me.”
Dr Rongo continues to search for work in the Cook Islands particularly in the Marine Resources area however opportunities are limited especially for someone with his level of expertise. “I would love to stay and work in my home country but I realize there are challenges ahead and I need to consider the interests of my family as well even if it means having to work offshore because of the limited opportunities.”
For now, it’s job searching, weighing up options and considering the future.

Understanding DSM issues
Local civil engineer, Sam Brown, of Miro Consultants Cook Islands Ltd, attended the Pacific ACP (African, Caribbean, Pacific ) States Regional Training Workshop on Deep Sea Minerals (DSM) held in Nadi, Fiji from 13 to 17 August 2012.
The workshop was part of the European Union funded SPC (Secretariat of the Pacific Community) Deep Sea Minerals Project and dealt with the geological, technical biological and environmental aspects of deep sea minerals.
Representatives from 14 other Pacific nations attended with the exception of PNG and Timor Leste. Five non-government organizations were represented including the Cook Islands Te Ipukarea Society.
Brown told the Herald on Monday morning that the workshop gave him a better understanding of the current technology associated with deep sea mineral exploration, the world wide supply and industrial/technological/military use of such minerals, their contribution to the economy and society and their importance in technological advancement and progress.
Brown said there was still much to learn about the environmental impact of deep sea mining hence the need to consider the precautionary approach.
For the Cook Islands, there will need to be a better understanding of the social impact of deep sea mining. There are societal changes to consider following the acquisition of great wealth and the role this will play in benefits to employment, education, health, infrastructure and population.
He feels there will be some advantages in informing students of the coming changes that will affect their lives. They should be prepared so they are better able to meet and cope with the challenges that will arise. After all, it is the next two generations that will assume responsibility for developing and maintaining the deep sea minerals industry. -Charles Pitt

Patrol Boat lends assistance

The Cook Islands Patrol Boat “Te Kukupa” was quick to respond to a call for assistance on Saturday 22 September when they received information through Telecom Cook Islands that three fishermen had encountered engine problems and were drifting at sea off Blackrock.
Crew were recalled to duty and by 1:00 pm the “Te Kukupa” had departed and started a search for the fishing boat. However, the men managed to re-start the engine and were slowly making their way to the wharf.
A member of the public also put to sea in his boat to lend assistance to the men.
The 15 foot aluminium boat was located and escorted to the wharf. All three men were safe and well.
Maritime Commander Inspector Tepaki Baxter urged the boating community to take safety precautions before setting off to sea.
“This was a happy ending to what could have been a disaster. I urge the community to ensure their boat is in good seaworthy condition. Always take spare fuel, water, food and a good reliable means of communications with you. Cell phone if you are going to be in range but radio if you are going further out. Also tell someone what time you expect to return.” Inspector Baxter said.
Police Media Release

Creative Centre Sends Jade to New Zealand
An attendant of the Cook Islands Creative centre, 23 year old Jade Ruri was selected by a panel of members to represent the Cook Islands at a leadership workshop for people with impairment held in New Zealand. The workshop which lasted for the duration of 1 week saw Ruri engage in activity based tasks to build and enhance participants confidence and cognitive skills.
Director of the Creative Centre Bob Kimiangatau says that members of the centre had selected Ruri to attend this year’s workshop as she had already displayed strong leadership skills and was viewed as a leader amongst her peers, “Jade will almost always take the lead in conversation and it’s a real confidence builder for her, even travelling to New Zealand unaccompanied is a huge achievement, which is fantastic.”
Sponsored by Cook Islands Rotary Club Ruri partook in a number of outdoor activities over the span of the week including canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, team building activities and focused on areas of social behavior and learning how to apply those in social settings. “Jade has returned with a lot of confidence and skills,” says Kimiangatau of this year’s Creative Centre candidate.
The Cook Islands Creative Centre has been participating in the following workshop for three years sending two members prior to Jade. “The course is a great way for our students to gain confidence and skills” explains Kimiangatau. One such example is the likes of initial attendee and student of the Creative Centre Geroge Mare. Mare has now been employed fulltime with CITC and has achieved his initial goal of securing employment to purchase a motorbike. “When he returned his confidence was raised,” says Director Kimiangatau, “so we are looking forward to sending someone for next year.” -MAria Tanner

Cook Islands hold talks with Etihad Airways in Paris
Cook Islands Tourism Corporation held talks with Etihad Airways in Paris this morning as part of a global effort by the Corporation to enhance relations with the luxury Arabian carrier who flies to three major cities including Sydney from the French capital and a multitude of other European gateways. Etihad has a special relationship with Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia allowing travellers to fly into the Cooks at very competitive rates on the Sydney/Rarotonga route.
Talks centred around working cooperatively to increase and enhance promotion of the Sydney/Rarotonga route with French travel agents selling holiday trips to Australia and extending onto the Cooks. Future joint activity proposes to focus on training workshops, press and trade trips, and promoting special Australia and Cook Island low-season packages.
Further talks are expected in the next two weeks with Etihad in Spain, Italy and other key European markets.-Release

Birthday Bash!

WOW! A birthday to remember. A day filled with four trays of pork, ill-smelling fish and my amazing cousins and their junk food. The day before my actual birthday my cousins and I pulled up at the site of the new fun water park in Arorangi. It wasn’t what I expected with all those people and the one shower, but it really had that “outdoor” feel to it. It was scary, me being on top of the slide with the strong winds which rocked the slide back and forth, but it was exciting, full of adrenaline.
I scored a ride with my awesome “Kuzzin” Robyn and Justin got a ride with Nga. Travelling all the way out to the wild, wild west (Arorangi) through the gushing winds and the freezing air (same thing haha) built the anticipation and excitement of having to “Superman” off the slide. Some of us had a curfew (like moi) and some of us were free to go home at any time they wished (Robyn), so we had to make the most of our time.
At the payment booth, we were fighting over whether our other friends would come so that we could get a discounted entry rate. But we couldn’t so we just paid the expensive rate. There were a horde of “tamarikis” and they kind of put us off. But we didn’t travel all the way to waste petrol, but to have a fun day as cousins.
We had a go at the little kids bouncy castle and even the Adrenaline Rush, which was also for little kids, but we had to man up and attempt the Big Boys castle. Waiting in line, with all these little kids pushing in front of us, we wondered whether we would make it up the daunting, jeering ladder, but that’s what made it thrilling and gut-wrenching. Five minutes later, my two cousins, Nga and Justin, had conquered and slain the humongous beast. Now, it was my turn. Struggling to even put my foot forward, all I heard was my cousins screaming at me to hurry up (I took THAT long) Finally at the top of the slide, we were arguing over who would jump first…then Nga must’ve gotten sick of our bickering and she just soared down the slide, followed by Justin’s amazing “aerodynamics” and then my epic splosh.
Tired and hungry from our superhero duties, we headed off to our favorite place to eat: PALACE! We all had big eyes and ordered more than we could eat, except me. Then we had a modeling session upon the staggering boulders, the shimmering seas and the terrifying heights. Justin being Cook Islands Next Top Model (I mean, vain much) he was practically in every picture, outshining his fellow cousin, Robyn. Overall, what a wonderful birthday bash. I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing 16th birthday, with the people I really, really, REALLY love the most. -Norma Ngatamariki

Another round of exams!

It’s exams again! I remember only too well that I was writing a similar article like this a few months ago about the first set of exams that we had had for the year was beginning, and thankfully, not bragging or anything, (maybe just a little) but I managed to pass every single one of them! Well I did only have English, but I made history, (in my own world) by passing my very first unfamiliar text!! The universe was on my side this year.
Speaking of English, I had my English exams today, and to be honest, those questions frustrated me to no end. They weren’t exactly what I expected, it’s like, in class they teach you how to spell the word ‘apple’ and then in tests they ask you to spell something a little harder like ‘passion fruit’ and then in the exams they ask you to spell some foreign fruit you can’t even pronounce and then discuss it’s Latin name and then all about the country it came from in full detail! That’s how I felt when I skimmed through the questions for the Shakespeare essay. I expected something more along the lines of the practice essays we had done in class, but no, we had to get something like what’s your view on this, and to what extent do you agree with that blah blah blah, and don’t get me started on the Film essay! But anyway, before I start ranting on about how much I despise exams, it all ended ok when I finished my exam with one hour left on the clock (can I write fast or what!)
Tomorrow is my very important Media Studies exam, (MY LAST EXAM! YAY!) And right now as I’m writing this, I’m glancing back and forth at the pile of notes on my bed knowing too well that I’ll have to dig through them soon and begin an intense study session, scribbling down little reminders, making up weird sentences to remember things and going over the same stuff again and again and again until its permanently tattooed in my head. Awesome night ahead of me, but then its all over for me! I don’t have any other exams, but I do have 6 arts boards I need to….start on, plus an entire costume unit for Drama due on Thursday, which I haven’t done too much on, so while everyone else is busy studying, I’ll be cursing at Adobe Illustrator, fluttering around with a camera and ripping up pieces of fabric and sticking them next to poorly drawn figures with no hair. (I’m never been that amazing at drawing people)
So anyway, my luck goes out to all those genius’ who have five or six exams this week and will be studying till their brain explodes, and of course too everyone else who have exams too for the rest of the week!
Remember, drink truck loads of water, get eight hours of sleep, and have the most healthiest breakfast you can think of to get your brain in check! Good luck! -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

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.