HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

News Briefs

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,
I feel compelled to express my disappointment and anger in the Kata cartoon that appeared in last Thursday’s Cook Islands News. Quite apart from insulting the people of the Solomon Islands, this cartoon associates Tav with this insult. I find this very disturbing to myself personally and to all that are associated with my company. I also feel that the cartoon is an insult to all Cook Islanders. It is not in our nature to insult the people of another nation let alone the people of a fellow Pacific Island nation.
When a cartoon denigrates and belittles the people of another nation then it is no longer funny. It is insulting and offensive and it shows a lack of responsibility on the part of those who have publicised it. I believe that our country is held in high regard throughout the Pacific. We as a nation hosted a very successful Pacific Islands Forum only weeks ago where we portrayed to the world an image of a friendly and hospitable people. We now have a CI News cartoon that has been reprinted on the front page of the Solomon Islands Times that portrays the Cook Islands as arrogant. I don’t blame the people of the Solomon Islands for getting upset. The people at Cook Islands News need to understand what it means to be a Cook Islander and a Pacific Islander. We may have our differences but we do have a respect for each other’s culture, way of life and standing as Pacific People. Those at CI News that decided to print this cartoon have no sense of feeling, of being part of the Pacific People. Non Pacific Islanders are welcome to the Cook Islands and the Pacific but please show some respect for who we are.
Every Cook Islander and family member I’ve spoken to about the cartoon has expressed disappointment and embarrassment.
Cook Islands News must apologise to the people of the Solomon Islands including the people of the Cook Islands.
I hope they have some decency to do so, otherwise I will.

Yours sincerely,
Ellena Tavioni

National spirit should not be put at risk
After returning from a very successful assignment last week, it was very disturbing to have to be confronted with the poor attitude displayed by the daily newspaper, Cook Islands News. I am of course referring to what had been disguised as media ‘freedom’ to ‘explain’ the insult directed at our friends from the Solomon Islands, a very proud Pacific nation.
What on earth possessed the newspaper publisher to dismiss their sensitivities? And our own sensitivities toward Pacific people?
It is equally painful to have to even refer to this disgrace brought upon us by the newspaper, which too often generates ill-feeling from what it thinks is ‘news’. The selective morality demonstrated by the newspaper is poor policy and unjustified.
The effect of the recent editorial decision was to put at risk our efforts to build real national spirit and pride. Look at how our people did such a magnificent job during the Pacific Islands Forum. I’m still carrying the heartfelt sentiments of deep gratitude toward our schools and the children, who uplifted our national spirit. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of our people and their support in showcasing our nation to the Pacific Leaders and their delegations.
I took this spirit with me to the United Nations, as Chair of the Forum. My first assignment as Chair was filled with it. Being alongside the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands was a tremendous experience, working together with my colleagues from around the Region and achieving important in-roads to the UN system for our own small nations.
I returned home exhilarated. Tired of course but buoyed by Pacific togetherness and cooperation. Now, we could all do with a rest from the erosion of this national spirit by purposeful tactics to undermine it with negativity. We don’t deserve to be dragged down to appalling levels of disrespect, especially in terms of how we have built strong and meaningful relations with our fellow Pacific peoples.
I’ve always advocated a free press as a necessary component of our maturing democracy. And I’ve consistently pointed out that with such freedoms come great responsibilities. Dismantling freedom of expression by separating it from responsibility is unacceptable.
The media always remind us that there is a need for fair treatment. What one newspaper tends to forget is to extend the same fairness that it demands for itself. Our people, and those around the region, deserve that fairness too. -Prime Minister Henry Puna

Would a real Cook Islander stand up please
As recently as last week, there was a debate in the media about what a real Cook Islander is. The debate stemmed out of complaints pointing to a Member of Parliament from the Government side operating a taxi service without a proper license. That particular MP said it was a hobby of his but things became nasty when a letter was delivered to the complainant accusing him of not being a “real cookie” but a foreigner taking up the opportunities of “real Cook Islanders”. This sparked a response from the complainant’s daughter, whose mother is a “Maori Cook Islander” standing up for her father, a prominent businessman and employer of a number of Cook Islands people.
I observed this exchange with some interest and thought it would be an interesting topic for my column instead of the normal political “fist-cuffs” I have with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. It is interesting because, first the offending MP is a Government caucus member and a “native” from the outer islands. Secondly the complainant is a Kiwi “papa’a” who married a local woman and have children and grandchildren of Cook Islands genealogical ancestry. Thirdly the complainant is a permanent resident, our legal and formal way to acknowledge that someone other than a Cook Islander of blood descent has become a Cook Islander.
So when is a Cook Islander a Cook Islander and why is it important?
Undoubtedly, there are various interpretations of what constitutes a Cook Islander. The most basic and I suppose the one many people will refer to is that contained in the Cook Islands Constitution Act of 1915 when the lawmakers defined a “native” as “a person belonging to any of the Polynesian races (including the Maori race) and includes a half-caste and a person of pure descent from any such trace.” So a native of the Cook Islands would be a Cook Islander if he is of the Polynesian race of the Cook Islands including therefore those born from a mixed union between a native and a foreigner.
Maori Cook Islanders would find comfort in that definition because in my view it covers aspects of “blood rights” and “land and ownership rights.” Hence therein lay a sense of belonging and being indigenous to the Cook Islands.
However, the human landscape of the Cook Islands has changed so much over time that people who are not natives to the Cook Islands have now made the country their home. They fall under the term “permanent resident” and many of such people have married or have families with so called “native” men and women.
I hope readers can see that the reason why the letter writer claimed to the businessman claimed him or herself to be the “real cookie” instead of the businessman is because of the difference as I outlined above. But it is a claim made on very thin grounds considering the things that we as a country and as people now have and value.
For me as leader of the Opposition and potentially heading a new Government in the future, the economic, social and political value of people that choose to live in the Cook Islands makes them “real Cook Islanders”. Many non-natives have invested a lot of time and money to build up the economic base of the country and they, to me, are real. Many of them through their business activities employ a number of Cook Islanders and they have added value to our education and health system, although we still have some way to go to enjoy the same standard other Western countries have.
I believe we need to strike a good balance where respect for all Cook Islanders irrespective of their origins, is upheld. I promise that the Cook Islands under the Democratic Government will enshrine that as a fundamental principle in our laws and lives. - Leader of the Opposition, Wilkie Rasmussen

Tivaevae exhibition
On Tuesday the National Council of Women hosted a tivaevae display at the Beachcomber ‘s Contemporary Art Gallery. Members of the Council, which include Tungane Broadbent and Mii Quarter, collected tivaevae from all around, including the outer islands. The gallery was filled with such vibrant colour and unique patterns, as well as other handmade crafts, such as hats (pare), baskets (kete) and a distinctive cushion cover made from rito (young coconut fronds) and parau (mother-of-pearl shell) The Council receives no commission for selling the items on the creators behalf, as all the funds are returned to the original maker. -Norma Ngatamariki

Seeking help to de-sex dogs

The Cook Islands SPCA is concerned at the large number of dogs that are not de-sexed and the puppies that have been weaned off, are then left to fend for themselves and create a public problem. The same applies to cats, where they are left to breed, then the kittens are removed from their mothers quite young, abandoned in the bushes to die, or to be found by a caring person. This is the most in-humane action any human can do.
The Society asks anyone that sees people allowing mother dogs or cats to keep breeding to please contact the CISPCA ( Cook Islands Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Office at the Punanga Nui on Phone: 25 005 during their office hours Monday - Friday 10am - 1.30pm: and Saturdays 10am - 12midday.
The Society also asks owners who would like their pets to be de-sexed to please make an appointment with the Esther Honey Clinic on Ph: 23 336. To arrange transportation to the clinic or for the re-housing of unwanted pets, please call the CISPCA Office during their office hours or call Kura on Ph. 27 577; Ina Organ on 77063, or leave a message for Elmah Ph. 28 370.
We have members that are rearing unwanted puppies and kittens and also older dogs to re-house, so please call the CISPCA office to arrange adoption. We will make the necessary treatments for free, before the new parents can take them home. These are trying times, so these animals can therefore be neglected causing a nationwide problem.
We would like to ask the public`s help and support in keeping our animal population down again as only together we can make this happen.
The CISPCA will be carrying out a number of fund raising activities to further develop their animal Shelter and Adoption facilities. If you wish to donate towards this venture in any way possible, and if you want to be a member, please contact the volunteers at our Punanga Nui Office. - CISPCA release

New technology and the classroom
A workshop was held on Tuesday morning at the Red Cross main Training Centre, aiming to inform and advise people on the proper use of modern technology and its many functions in society today. The Ministry of Education is looking to make some improvements on the current ‘old world’ school system so that the schools of the Cook Islands are better equipped for the future.
Andrew Churches, an IT and Arts teacher at Kristin School in Auckland, has appeared in Rarotonga to give a keynote presentation about Digital Fluencies and to share his thoughts and opinions with the attendees of the workshop.
Teachers from various departments attended the workshop to get a better understanding of an average school student’s perspective on the digital world and how IT (Information Technologies) are being used to their advantage. Depending on the availability, students may need to readily adapt to the digital world around them in order to obtain better learning practices and resources, which enables them to have more opportunities in the later future. In short, IT is being used to prepare students for jobs that don’t even exist yet. This answers a question that people have asked for a long time: What are the essential skills that our kids need in order to survive in a world of change?
According to Churches, there are 1.9 billion users of Internet out in there in the world, which is roughly about a quarter of the globe’s population. The Cook Islands are included in these statistics and also, 75 percent of Cook Islanders are in possession of a cell phone, which means that there is more connectivity between people. With that being said, there are risks that come alongside this concept.
Churches discussed the powerful influence of social networking, particularly the most popular Facebook, and the dangers of sharing personal information online. For instance, a teenager creates an event for a “party” that he is hosting and invites just about all his “Friends” on Facebook, which came up to a total of 1800 people. The teenager shared personal information online, including a phone number and an address. One “Friend” in particular threatens to bring a bomb to the party, which sparked panic, forcing the teen to cancel the event. This shows how influential social networking can be, especially when it is used as such.
Because of the development and revolution of technology, its uses (as well as its users) are becoming broader, leading to further exposure of excessive digital influences to children. Some people say that with IT, it is an easier way of accessing information, a more convenient, efficient and cheaper alternative. An example of this can be found in Florida, where e-Books are compulsory for a child’s education. Others have different views on the issue, but it really depends on how you, as a user of IT, perceive it.
Media, especially YouTube, which is an “amazing medium” as quoted by Churches, changes the way we communicate and our forms of entertainment. In Japan, there is a pop star in the form of a hologram, but sings using software which manipulates, alters and creates sounds. The use of Twitter is simply to keep track of a world’s crisis. Protests are being organized using the site, making it a very powerful tool in modern day society.
Looking at IT in a positive light, there are six steps that will encourage your child to develop their minds and “think outside the box”.
1. Problem Solving
2. Creativity
3. Analytical Thinking
4. Collaborate
5. Communicate
6. Ethics, Actions and Accountability
Following these steps will ensure that your child will enjoy using IT and will not be abused by them. -Norma Ngatamariki

Tangi Ke! Discovering Mangaia
One of the first things you notice as you fly into Mangaia is the size of the island – it is big, in fact, only a little smaller in size than Rarotonga making it the 2nd largest in the country. The 2nd is its ‘teeth’ showing in the sharp grey cliffs encircling the island. Mangaia is almost the exact reverse of Rarotonga, in that its towering double makatea rises sharply from the clear Pacific waters until it reaches the middle of the island. Here, a hidden garden awaits the adventurer, not unlike one of those valleys that Hollywood heroes fall into only to discover a land lost in time – I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a lumbering Brontosaurus below my vantage point instead of the vivid green of the Taro patches.
Stepping out of the aircraft and walking into the brightly painted terminal, sets the scene for your visit. The terminal is crowded and it is hard to tell those leaving, those welcoming or those just hanging around but it all makes for fun. A beautiful child sits on a table in front of a charming mural and the little airport shop is open for business – all good signs of a warm, welcoming community. Behind the terminal, is your first close encounter with the layers of Makatea rising sharply from the roadside, the dark grey/black of the ancient coral contrasting sharply with the vivid green and brilliant scarlet of the hardy grasses and Bougainvillea. This says it all about Mangaia – a wild, beauty and a hint of mystery for the visitor.
This island has so much to offer and the exciting thing is that it is totally different to our other islands – we are amazingly lucky to have such diversity of experiences and landscape across our country . The weather gods decided to take the rain option during my stay but that didn’t detract from the Mangaia experience in any way, in fact, sometimes seeing a place at its supposed worst can highlight its true beauty. The greens were more intense with a sheen of water on them, the roiling waters around the wreck of the Saragossa showed us why the sea could take this ship – its massive anchor and chain still being pounded by those same seas 100+ years later. In a remote area of the island, the rescue of the crew by the islanders seems even more heroic when you consider the distances and conditions they endured to save the sailors. The road down to the site begins in an incredible glade of ferns with towering trees closing the canopy above you and ends with families of goats and hardy pandanus clinging to the cliffs above the pounding surf. Contrast is what this island is all about.
Moving inland, the visitor is treated to the beauty that is Lake Tiriara – a tranquil combination of reeds, palms, ferns and water dramatically capped at one end by the high makatea and the cave system below it. The birdlife in this area is particularly rich and you can imagine bird watchers lining up to spend time in the bird hide which could one day be deployed at this site. That valley lost in time can be seen from above at the Maumaukura lookout where those less challenged by heights than me can peer down into the green heart of this beautiful island.
But Mangaia isn’t just about the physical landscape, the experience is also in meeting the people and having the chance to connect with them. The Mama at the market who produces beautiful sinnet and shell necklaces and like her sisters, labours for hours collecting the pupu, soaking, washing, drilling and threading them to produce beautiful golden necklaces that seem far too cheap for the work involved. The master carver making intricately carved adzes bound by sinnet and capped by smooth basalt – a beautiful and somewhat formidable take home memory of island traditions.
While there are no restaurants on this island, accommodation is available with cooking facilities and it is an idea to take advantage of the fresh fish available from fishermen on their return to the harbour. The good news is that a fishing club is being built which will offer the visitor a place to meet locals, quench their thirst and hopefully to taste local delicacies. My stay consisted of island kai kai ranging from ika mata to goat renga – heavenly!
For those who haven’t had a chance to visit Mangaia, I would suggest putting it on your travel calendar for the year. Stay at either the beautifully appointed Mangaia Villas overlooking the ocean or the cosy Babe’s closer into town. Visit the markets and take home some Mangaian arts and crafts, take a tour around the island and discover the highs and lows of the island’s landscape, loll in the freshwater pool at the edge of the beach, sit on the harbour wall watching the resident turtles, meet the locals but above all – SLOW DOWN - there are signs telling you to, so who am I to argue? -Carmel Beattie

OMG, School Holidays Are Here!

After an excruciating week of Senior Exams, I was glad to see that the school holidays would be coming up. It was crucial that I get a stress-free break from all the frantic studying or else my brain would melt. Even though I’m working these holidays (as usual), I find it very fulfilling, as I get paid a whole heap of money at the end of it AND on top of that, I get to meet some awesome, important people. I still don’t like the part where I don’t have the chance to sleep in, but hey, what can you do?
On Sunday, I was literally tearing my room apart, trying to find things that were necessary in order for me to function at work. I found my laptop bag (which had cobwebs on it, since it’s been neglected) my lucky pink handbag (no idea why I’m calling it lucky, it never does anything really) my 8GB USB, my phone (we teenagers can’t go very far without our phones, can we?) and of course, a pretty outfit. I had some serious clothes shopping to do, since I was getting sick of wearing the same old dresses to work.
My first day at work began with me waking up at 7 AM sharp, the only thing that sucks. No breakfast, just a quick shower and change of clothes. My “driver” and I were off by 8 AM. I didn’t bother asking for the bike, since my mum can’t bear being apart from her beloved vehicle (Oh, did I tell you? I just managed to get my license. Amazing, right?) As soon as I arrived to work, I already had an interview lined up, as well as other events that I had to attend.
On Tuesday, I attended this workshop at Red Cross (I actually thought it was going to be really boring, but it turned out to be really cool) which was focussed on IT (for those of you who don’t know, IT stands for Information Technology) I saw way too many teachers, which kind of made me edgy. Three of them were actually my Media, Maths and DGT teachers. Scary stuff. Anyway, this fellow named Andrew made a presentation about IT, which I really liked, because it made people participate and do some brain-teasing activities. He finished off the presentation with a wonderful story by Dr. Seuss called “Hooray For Diffendoo Day”. (I’m trying to read that book online for free, but no such luck.)
That was a brilliant way to start my morning. After that, I was told to head down to the Beachcomber for a tivaevae viewing hosted by the National Council of Women. The tivaevae put on display were simply amazing, such vibrant colour and unique design. Then it was the Ministry of Health next, so that I could witness the signing of some very important paper. Oh, and I also shook hands with the Regional Director of WHO for the Western Pacific! Coolies! -Norma Ngatamariki

School holidays!
They’re finally here! Those two weeks of freedom everyone’s been anxiously waiting for while they dragged themselves through their exams last week, it’s now time to enjoy the sun and everything else this little island has to offer! (Which can be actually be a lot if you really look).
I’ve been in and out of the airport these, past few days with family coming in, and friends coming back home all on random flights, I swear we’ve rid at least three gardens of their flowers to make all the ei’s. I admit, my sewing skills need some work, I’ve never understood the whole threading the cotton through the needle thing, because it always just came off the needle and it baffled me how the cotton stayed on my mums needle, but anyway! I managed to sew an ei, which just ended up looking like a big chunk of flowers all hanging on the end of a string (I’m better at head eis) and then to make things worse, I ran out of flowers so it just ended up being a really small ei, but…chunky, anyway like they say, it’s the thought that counts! (Oh and then the flowers were like half dead by the time I gave the ei to my friend, because useless me, forgot to put it in the fridge).
Like last holidays, I was supposed to be working at CITV and Cook Islands Herald for these holidays, (remember, I had to eat an eel and run around after float parades all day in the rain) but I had to give up the really fun experience, so I could work on a couple of things for school…dear procrastination, YOU SUCK!
Two weeks does sound like a really long time, but before we know, it one week is over and then the next and then we’re back to school sitting at desks talking about how fast the holidays went! So make these holidays count, and have FUN because you’ll get back to school happy, sunburnt and fresh, ready to tackle those NCEA exams with a bang! Unfortunately most seniors will have stuff they need to finish for school, (like me) but finding time to spend with friends and family amongst piles of homework and all that these holidays, can be rewarding.
So it’s Wednesday today, if you haven’t had much of an awesome holiday yet, I guess it’s time to start! Don’t wait for tomorrow, or the weekend, start NOW! Whatever time you’re reading this ‘awesome article’ (just bragging a little), whether at night or during the day, go do something awesome and crazy with some friends or family!
If you’ve had a good and relaxing holiday with fun and hypo crazy days and nights, you’re bound to be ready to pull through the remaining few weeks of school because after a good ol’ break, you’re bound to be more focused. And wouldn’t it be awesome being able to celebrate Christmas and New Years knowing you finished school forever AND YOU PASSED! (Yup that sounds pretty awesome and stress-free to me).
So if you aren’t already having a good time these holidays, make it amazing! -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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