HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

News Briefs

Government wants us to pay for our water
User-pay is quite a popular word with the current Government. Essentially it is about members of the public paying for the use of public services and resources. It has been around now for some time especially since Government’s could no longer afford to provide services free. For instance our health services are now user-pay. You go to hospital, you pay. Some aspects of education are user-pay as is some aspects of our energy provision system.
If I may take us back to several months ago when the Government through the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister announced during the Pacific Forum that a major project on water provision is to be embarked upon by the country. The cost will be $32 plus million and this was to be borrowed from the People’s Republic of China. Additional aid money from New Zealand will also be available. I and the Opposition complained that this loan will be a huge undertaking on our part as a country and as taxpayers and that we simply could not afford it. We also said that the Government needs to provide more details such as how much is actually being borrowed, what’s the interest rate of the loan, how much are we paying back and for how long. None of these questions were ever answered.
However, I am absolutely certain that the Government wants some costs to be met by the citizens of Rarotonga and of course the country – hence user-pays for water. I suppose the logic of it is that they build and we pay – nothing is free. This is fine but let us stand back and re-look at how the Government is approaching it. Has there been any consultation with the public? After-all we call ourselves a democracy. Should your average Joe and Mary public be given a chance to consider the implications of user-pays in terms of a precious resource such as water? Water is an essence of life and so water here in Rarotonga flows from the mountain within various people’s lands. Should Government not be scared of the multiple rights and claims that could emerge from the work done on these people’s lands?
I also learnt recently that the Chinese are demanding the same sort of arrangement which is predictable and consistent with their aid programs to overseas countries. Whenever it wishes to construct or build something overseas, the People’s Republic of China always use their own people as labour not locals. Have we not learnt from our previous Chinese funded projects that no local labour gets hired, if any, just a couple? That’s what’s going to happen. Our local workforce is not going to benefit from the project contrary to what the Ministry of Infrastructure recently announced. The Chinese will instead be descending onto our shores to do the work.
It’s a double tragedy really. We get hit by water usage invoices and we don’t get to benefit from the finance brought into the country to construct the project. That’s why I as Leader of the Opposition and Democratic Party have stated and will strongly state caution and call for clearer discussion and clarification by the Government. I say to the people of the Cook Islands and Rarotonga in particular – don’t let the Government place another financial burden on you so that Government will generate money to maintain a lavish administration. -Leader of the Opposition, Wilkie Rasmussen

Students welcome PM to Fiji
About 20 young Cook Islanders were among the first to welcome the Prime Minister to Fiji this week, as Henry Puna arrived in Suva to deliver a key note address as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum. The occasion was a social one, with Prime Minister Puna treating the students to a dinner in the heart of the Fiji capital.
The Prime Minister arrived in Fiji at Nadi on Wednesday morning and was whisked to Suva by road transport under police escort. Domestic flights between the towns had been disrupted due to airline breakdowns.
Although arriving tired, Puna told the students he was honoured to join them and to provide a local get-together to share experiences. The Cook Islanders were a mix of scholars, including the fields of medicine and health, and education. Stephen Matapo from Customs, who is in Fiji for a six-week course, was also part of the gathering as were Annie and Maveni Kaufononga, who have been resident in Fiji, since 2009.
The Prime Minister shared his perspectives on his role as Forum Chair, and described the hosting of this year’s Leaders’ Meeting in Rarotonga as an experience he’ll never forget. He also encouraged the students in their work and described his own background as a young student that strived to contribute to his country. Puna said the young students were the leaders of the future and should think seriously about how they could work hard to serve their people.
The Prime Minister is in Fiji as the main event of the Annual Leaders’ Lecture Series, which takes place on Thursday at the Forum Secretariat Headquarters. Nearly 100 dignitaries and officials are expected to hear Puna speak on the merits and future of the Pacific Plan – the focus of the public lecture.
The Cook Islands students will also be appearing at the Leaders’ Lecture to welcome the Prime Minister, as part of the official programme.

Coming up with a cunning plan
Government has us subsidizing visitor travel from North America, now government wants us to subsidize their spending!

This year the country’s ever diminishing pool of tax payers will subsidize Air NZ to the tune of over $13 million for the LA/Raro and Sydney/Raro flights.
Although these flights were nowhere near capacity in August, 58% capacity out of LA and 66% out of Sydney, government tells us, especially in respect of the LA flight, that it is worth it because visitors from North America spend more.
Now, Tourism Corporation is promoting a proposal for a “Discount Booklet” for local retailers to offer North American and Australian visitors discounts on goods and services.
This apparently, is to encourage these visitors to spend more.
This proposal comes on top of Tourism Corp getting a further $2 million from tax payers for sales and marketing programmes to support the LA and Sydney flights. It is claimed these funds are vital for the survival of these direct flights and will strengthen the load factor for these routes.
For the LA flight, government uses the reasoning that the money spent by the visitors justifies retaining it. If that is so,why then the need to offer discounts to encourage spending?
Why should the retailer now subsidize North American visitors? From who does the retailer re-coup the costs?
The answer is obvious; from the local people silly enough to go to those shops and pay the full price or perhaps a price adjusted upwards to compensate for the discount.
Perhaps Finance Minister Brown should run Tourism.

Newly Deployed Avana FAD
Fishers will be relieved that the long awaited deep FAD has now been deployed at the Avana passage in Ngatangiia by the Ministry of Marine Resources staff. Appreciation is also extended to the local fishers, especially Captain Moko, the president of the Avana Fishing Club, who assisted with the deployment and provided lunch. The FAD Committee chaired by Mr Don Beer also provided advice and support.
The FAD was deployed on Monday, 15th October 2012, it is located at the Avana passage, the position is 21°14’.848” S, 159°41’.401” W, the distance is 1.5 Nautical miles from the Avana passage and the site depth is 1100 meters.
The latest deployment brings the number of FADs around for Rarotonga to 9. There are 6 deep FADs more than 1,000 meters depth and 3 shallow FADs around 600 meters depth.
According to Senior Fisheries Officer, Sonny Tatuava, “this is the most number of FADs ever deployed around Rarotonga at any one time”. He believes this is contributing to the good catches fishers are experiencing. However he cautions that the FADs will incur a lot of maintenance and is requesting the fishers and fishing clubs to help out with the FAD maintenance program.
MMR has a FAD maintenance board on display for fishermen, at the Avatiu Office.   Fishers who visit the Avatiu Office can check the board and see how they may assist.
At the FAD committee meeting held last month with the Minister of Marine Resources and Secretary of MMR, it was agreed that fishers should be encouraged to assist the FAD maintenance program and they can be compensated by a fuel allowance for their assistance. MMR Release

BCI, Sport for All
Bowls Cook Islands, Inc, ‘THE PACE OF CHANGE’. Over 20 years ago, who would have thought an IT “bug” known as Y2K would have cost over $20bn to rectified. And 10 years from now, the last of the Baby boomers will be under 25% of the population and beginning to retire and become grandparents and slowly turn to Lawn Bowls to keep them in shape.
The great news is, bowling in the Cook Islands has taken a new twist since the formation of the sport in 1928. As one of the top 3 and top performer code in the country it has served this country consistently with Gold Medals in the Pacific and Mini Games especially the last 30yrs. Since 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games the Cook Islands has been knocking on quarter final’s doors and finding it difficult to find a way through. The creation of U25 Junior World Bowls High Performance and the fast tracking of our young men and women between the age of 17yrs and 24 years old, who will take us to the next level of success before we get to 100 years in 2028.
What a fantastic sport we all play. This sport will never be labeled as an old people’s sport. What a fantastic opportunity it provides at the elite level to showcase the sport to future generations. That’s what Bowls Cook Islands, Inc have been doing within the planning stages when launching this changes at the Annual General last Thursday Oct 4th,2012. There is a recent change in focus in Australia which may well prove to be a fantastic case study for sport to grow into the future here in the Cook Islands. While we are always working to introduce new participants to the sport, the other side of the equation is having strong clubs who can cater for the needs of the new players to the sport. To ensure clubs have the best support needed to prosper, Bowls Cook Islands has recently embarked on an ambitious plan to better serve our club.
As I write this, a unique opportunity is currently up for grabs to help shape the sport of Bowls. Bowls Cook Islands, Inc is currently advertising for 10 Females and 10 Males between 17yrs to 24yrs of age (as of 1st Jan.2013) to join our dynamic high performance team, to accurately recording local membership and participation data.
Please contact: Bowls Cook Islands, Inc Secretary General Anna Kairua Mobile 54558 to register your interest. -Ben Mose

First Day Back!

Yes, children, it’s time to get back to school! By the time you reader this, it would have been almost the end of the first week of Term Four. I was already sick of school by Monday! Some of the tamarikis were so eager to get back in the classroom to do REAL work. Well, good for you guys! There were others who were still stuck in the holiday mode (like me.lolz) but we all have to face reality at some point. Personally, I reckon that two weeks was not enough for me, especially since I was WORKING (yeah, that’s right, I had a PAID holiday job)
The fact that we got our school End of the Year Exam results back on Monday was something I feared. What if I got a “Naringa” grade on one of my papers? What then? Well, first off, I’d get the meanest beating of my life (I am not allowed to get ANY Not Achieved grades, for ANY subjects), I’d be too ashamed of myself to attend school and I’d probably start hating on the teacher who had the NERVE to give me an N. Luckily enough, it didn’t go that far. I got a range of grades (A combination of Excellences and Merits in Accounting, Media and English. The only thing that ruined it was my Achieved for Mathematics)
It was back to the lunch routine. Coming to school, I finally realized all the junk I was eating in comparison to the food I had during the lunch breaks of my holiday. I opted for a healthier option, buying a salad roll and a bottle of Pump water. It made me feel better about myself, so I decided to eat like that every day until the end of the school term (If possible. Lolz)
At first, being in a classroom felt like a prison cell, because where I work; I was allowed to roam where ever I pleased. It was, like, threatening my independence. In the end, I had no choice but to comply with the school rules and sit in my chair for almost an hour. This went on for FIVE hours in each of my subject classes. I really missed my freedom. And, of course, the teachers would have no mercy on the senior students, bombarding them with homework and other assignments that kids were suppose to hand in last term but they didn’t.
Another thing I didn’t miss about school was the duties. Sucks, man, having to clean the classroom when you’ve done enough cleaning in your holiday! Luckily for my class, there wasn’t much to do except dust a few tables and sweep the floor. I didn’t do any of it, so I don’t know why I’m complaining. The bell rang for the teachers to take their attendance and I was counting down the minutes when I would be out of that class! All and all, not a great start to the first day of Term Four. -Norma Ngatamariki

The Power of Music
I was just about to ask you a simple rhetorical questions which went like ‘Have you ever listened to a song that has moved you emotionally in some way?’ but then I stopped because of course EVERYONE has had that experience! (So I just thought it was pretty stupid to ask you) Anyway, it’s no great surprise that music is powerful, and can pretty much move or change a person in extreme ways! Sad songs can bring people to tears, and hyperactive crazy happy songs can liven up a person’s life! It all depends on the mood that they are in and what type of music they’re listening too.
Music is a way of communication within our world. It helps artist with communicating their feelings, and gives people the ability to send out powerful messages through a song! Whether it’s letting people know that they’re not alone, or helping people see the brighter side of life, basically anything!
Today though, there are just simple songs being created that have no real deep meaning to them, just pumping songs to create a happy atmosphere! (And that’s ok with me)
When people are moved emotionally by a song, it can sometimes be because of the lyrics, or maybe the sudden memories that are brought up by the song, or the atmosphere that they are in at the moment, or just the melodious sound of the song and the voice of the singer can move people.
A person will feel like listening to something that represents his internal state the most. So for instance, (and this is usually among girls) if you’re in a sad and depressed state, we usually plug in the ear phones, chose the most depressing song ever, crank up the volume and then shut out the world! Because lets face it, most people wouldn’t go and listen to some happy little cherry song about sunflowers and rainbows and pretty little blue birds tweeting about on a stupid branch, if they had, for example, just had their heartbroken after a year long relationship. This is because depressing songs usually have a powerful message behind their lyrics, and it’s these messages or words within the song, that make us feel like we’re not alone, and that someone understands what you’re going through.
THE POWER OF MUSIC! Teenagers today, are definitely all about music! It’s an important part of our lives and we listen to music basically anytime, anywhere. At home, at school, on the way to school, on the way home, at work, at training, at parties, when we’re bored, when we’re sad, when we’re happy, when we’re waiting for someone, ALL THE TIME! MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC! (Like right now I’m listening to music) We just can’t live without it! Our world would just be a drone of cars and animals, and wind and waves and all those ‘nature sounds’ (boring) So I suggest everyone should invest in some sort of music device, and a good decent pair of ear phones, and let the music take you away! -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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