PM pays tribute to Robert Wigmore
Prime Minister Hon Henry Puna today expressed his condolences to the family of the former Leader of the Cook Islands Democratic Party, Robert Wigmore who passed away today.
Paying tribute to Robert Wigmore who was Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister (2010) and Cabinet Minister (2009-2010), Prime Minister Puna said Mr. Wigmore had forged a formidable legacy as a businessman and an innovator in the agricultural development of the Cook Islands.
“His Ministerial appointments to Tourism, Foreign Affairs & immigration, Marine Resources, Police, Mineral and Natural Resources, and the Business Trade and Investment Board as well as his membership on numerous select committees remain as an enduring testament to his leadership skills and abilities.”
First elected as an MP in 1991, Prime Minister Puna said the constituency of Titikaveka will remember Robert Wigmore for his commitment to the development of his home village with upgrading and improvements to roadways and local surroundings.
“Above all things, Robert will be remembered as an ardent and vocal supporter of our people taking pride in who they were. He put this into action with his numerous contributions to youth, sports, health and education activities and programs in Titikaveka.”
“I join the rest of the country today in expressing my sympathy to his wife Tuaine and her family at the loss of a husband and father and great politician.”
The recruitment process for Heads of Government Departments is now well underway with applications for the 10 positions closing this Monday (16 April 2012).
The positions have been advertised for three weeks and Public Service Commissioner Russell Thomas said although a number of applications had already been received, more were expected to arrive on Monday for the positions of Secretaries of Agriculture, Justice, Education, internal Affairs, Cultural Development, Health, Transport, Infrastructure and Planning, as well as Chief Executive Officer of the Public Service Commissioner and Chief of Staff, Office of the Prime Minister.
Applicants are required to have a management or relevant degree and over five years senior management experience leading an organization, division and staff as a minimum.
Mr Thomas said his Office was now working on the composition of the selections panels for each position. “Unlike the past where there has only been one panel to consider all applications, we are now looking at having sector-focused teams with four members that will include the Public Service Commissioner (Chair), a representative of the Cook Islands Public Service Workers Association, a sector representative, and a member representing Cabinet and the Minister Responsible for the Office of the Public Service Commissioner.”
Up to six names per sector have been submitted to Cabinet for consideration as possible nominees for each selection panel.
The Public Service Commissioner is also developing the interview questions and fine tuning the short listing criteria for each position. “An orientation process to acquaint panel members with the selection process and fulfilling the duties and obligations of their role including declaring any conflicts of interest, maintaining confidentiality and impartiality is also being finalised.” He said Skype or teleconference calling will be utilised to interview shortlisted international candidates.
The selection process is expected to be complete by the end of May with a report to Cabinet recommending appointments expected in early June. The Public Service Commissioner says the selection panel must recommend up to three candidates to Cabinet for consideration, and where a decision is made not to accept any persons recommended the panel maybe reconvened.
Once confirmed, the final candidates will complete contract negotiations before officially assuming their three year appointment on 1 July 2012 to the end of June 2015.
Mr Thomas said this year the OPSC would prioritise announcing the successful candidates by first informing the person selected of their appointment; before announcing publicly that the appointment have been made. If time permits, the Commissioner also intends to introduce the new HoMs to their respective Minister, Ministry and Office staff.
He said the reviewed job descriptions for the senior posts illustrate the portfolio-specific long term strategic expectations that his Office is placing on each of the positions.
“Over three years in Health for example, we are seeking major reviews of important pieces of legislation and the development and implementation of the National Health Strategy in line with the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP) with a focus on clinical competency and expertise and combating Non-Communicable Diseases.”
“In Transport the emphasis is on the development and implementation of a civil aviation and air transport policy and plan and a maritime and sea transport policy and plan aligned to the NSDP. Development of a 10 year National Transport Plan plotting a path for efficient, affordable and sustainable shipping and airline services is also being sought.”
“Clearly applicants will need to be of a very high calibre, with strong and demonstrated leadership abilities, and who possess comprehensive skills and a forward looking vision for the future of our country and the Cook Islands public service.”
The application form can be downloaded from the OPSC website www.psc.gov.ck and must be fully completed and received prior to 4:00pm, Monday 16 April 2012 with a covering letter, indicating the skills and qualities candidates bring to the position and a copy of their CV.
Brown to Moscow
Minister of Sport Hon Mark Brown departed for Moscow Russia yesterday to attend the XVIII Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) 2nd World Olympic Sport Convention being held from 12-17 April 2012.
204 National Olympic Committees will be in attendance as well as the largest number of government representatives ever expected.
ANOC initiates close and effective cooperation and joint work between the National Olympic Committees and Governments with the aim of promoting and developing sport in each country, supporting athletes and preserving and developing Olympic principles and values.
The topics to be discussed include;
The development of collaborative public policy linking the benefits of sports to education and health
Securing and developing sport within the current worldwide economic context
Collaboration between NOCs and Governments in the development of high performance sport
Protecting and reinforcing the values of sport from the increasing pressures of doping and illegal betting
The development and promotion of youth sport
Sport and the Olympic Movement including attracting and maximizing major events as catalysts for development
Air travel and accommodation in Moscow are covered by ANOC. Minister Brown will return on 18 April 2012.
No decisions on departure tax or airline industry tax
The Government has confirmed that no decisions have been made with regard to the airport departure fees or airline industry aeronautical charges.
Commenting on media speculation, the Prime Minister Hon Henry Puna said today the Government would be consulting with both the tourism and airline industries on the appropriate overall level of the tax.
“The Airport Authority has issued a proposal for increasing aeronautical landing charges and the Government wishes to take a holistic approach towards the total charges to be imposed on the airline industry.”
“There are discussions still to be had with the Tourism Corporation and the airline industry on these matters and until such time as these are concluded it would be careless and inappropriate to make any further comment,” he said.
A boost to tourism through massage
A workshop was held yesterday at the Palace of Pa Ariki in Ngatangiia, being the first in a 3 part course in massage therapy. Students from various parts of the island, including one or two from the outer islands, have gathered at this workshop to learn more about human anatomy and different ways of relieving pain with the use of massage.
The guest speaker, Glenda Palmer, was very informative in addressing the issues about foot massage. A discussion was held to recognize the differences between European and Pacific genetic factors, in terms of how our feet are structured, as well as how environmental factors affect the configuration and manoeuvring of our feet. It has also been shown that massage helps the body in relieving stress, as well as pain, by circulating the blood around an injured or tensed area of the body.
From Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, Glenda has come to Rarotonga to teach students about the importance of learning massage therapy as a means of boosting the tourism industry as well as earning an honest income.
“Our purpose is to boost the confidence and competence in people so that they may work with the public,” Glenda says. “It is open to everyone who has an interest in massage therapy.”
The course, which is NZQA approved, will run in three parts, each part having their own agenda.
With the assistance of funding from NZ Aid, the workshop has been a success. -Ngariki Ngatae
Pukapuka shelter testament to strong partnership between EU and government
The Pukapuka Cyclone Management Shelter was formally opened on Tuesday 10 April to great fanfare, according to Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jim Gosselin and Head of the Political, Trade and Media Section of the European Union (EU) Delegation for the Pacific, Adam Janssen. The Prime Minister, Hon. Henry Puna, lead a delegation consisting of Cook Island Government and EU representatives to attend the opening in Pukapuka.
Speaking at a media conference at the Parekura Conference centre on Thursday, Gosselin commented that the people of Pukapuka showed great appreciation for the facility. “They thought it was a very valuable contribution to the island not only in the sense of a security facility – in the context of cyclones – but also as a community facility for use on a daily basis.”
Gosselin said the entire project was valued at approximately NZD$4.4 million dollars, with approximately $3.9 million of that funded by the EU and the remainder funded by the Cook Islands government. He remarked, “From the Cook Island government’s perspective, we are very appreciative for the EU for its great efforts. Not only in the amount of financial contribution it made, but also the outstanding flexibility that it was able to show and the dedication of quite a number of European Commission officials to exercise the maximum flexibility possible under EU aid procedures, in order to get everything done.”
Janssen expressed his own gratitude at the warmth of the Pukapukan community during the opening ceremony festivities. “We appreciated very much the very warm welcome we received. It was a wonderful experience. The people of Pukapuka have made us feel immediately part of their community.” He added that the EU are happy with the close working relationship they have formed with the Cook Islands government and that the EU is happy to continue to support the governments efforts to build resilience in cyclone preparedness. “We have a very good partnership that this shelter stands as an example of.”
Janssen and Gosselin both commented that they had the utmost confidence in the design of the building to be able to withstand and protect the people of Pukapuka in up to a category five cyclone. However, it was noted that if in an actual emergency the facility should fail to meet those standards the EU would be open to talks with the Cook Islands Government in funding any necessary changes to the building. -Ngariki Ngatae
Atiu Tourism Industry Council AGM
At its Annual General Meeting held on Tuesday at 3pm at the new Tourism Office on Atiu, the Atiu Tourism Industry Council elected the following office bearers;
President: papa Nikau Tangaroa
Vice President: George Mateariki
Secretary: Mrs Kura Malcom
Treasurer: Jungen Manske
Assistant Treasurer: Marshall Humphries
Committee members: Kau Henry, Roger Malcom
The Council’s major achievements to date have been to open the new office in Atiu and appoint staff member Ngamatua Mokoroa.
This term the Council will seek to work closely with landowners on the clearing of Maraes and the opening up of historical sites. -Charles Pitt
Refrigeration technicians form Association
On Wednesday the 4th of April, technicians from various businesses on Rarotonga met and formed the Cook Islands Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Association.
Forming the association provides the industry a strong body to help protect and improve the situation of the industry members. An association can protect the industry members from possible negative impacts such as legislative changes and foreign enterprise, strengthening capacity by developing a code of practice and generally an alliance of individuals and businesses with the same goals.
Also present at and supporting the meeting was a representative from the National Environment Service. The interest from this agency is the objectives of the National Ozone Unit that implements the international treaty to protect the ozone layer. It is in the best interests of the Ozone Project to encourage, support and affiliate with such an Association due to refrigerant technicians being directly responsible for the handling of ozone depleting gases used in refrigeration.
New amendments to the Environment Act (Ozone Layer Protection) Regulation 2003 means that businesses that import refrigerants will be affected so the formation of the Association means that there is a strong, united body to work with the government to ensure the smooth phase out of ozone depleting substances, namely HCFC’s.
The upcoming Association also recognises the technicians in the pa enua. Information regarding the formation of the association has been regularly sent out to them aswell as the running of the Best Practices in Refrigeration training, funded through the Ozone Project, in Aitutaki in December last year. Included in the Rarotonga training was a former technician now based in Mitiaro. The technicians in the pa enua will be invited to join the association.
Rugby League link up with New Zealand
The President of the Cook Island Rugby League, Charlie Carlson had a chat today on a link up between Radio Cook Islands and Radio 531PI in New Zealand on Rugby League.
Charlie Carson told Radio 531PI that Rugby League is the first sport to start off the season this
year and narrowly pulling out on top of all the other 6 teams, is the Tupapa Panthers with the Avatiu Eels hot on their paws.
The Link up started with a conversation on the incident between the Shark’s team and the Rugby League committee. The occurrence earlier this year was due to the lack of funding. “Fortunately we have managed to resolve that problem. We are very happy to have Aitutaki join the Rarotonga Rugby League teams,” Carson told listeners.
“The Cook Islands have produced great players for New Zealand such has the Iro brothers. Will the Cook Islands be producing more?” Asked New Zealand sports news presenter for radio 531Pi, Carl Reynor.
When asked by the 531PI sports presenter if the Cook Island rugby League clubs had enough equipment for training, Carson responded with a joke saying, “Yes, well we do have plenty of coconut and banana trees around that we use to strengthen our tackling”, then adding, “some of the clubs on the island do have enough of their own equipment which they use for both rugby and rugby league, so no there isn’t enough equipment to go around, but we get by.”
Carson told Radio 531PI listeners about the different challenges rugby league is facing, “ For a couple of years now we have been pushing for more masters to join clubs and play. Our masters come from 40 years and up due to a lot of 35 year olds still playing in the Premier teams. It is great to have them play again and show the young ones some old skills.”
Another challenge for the rugby league committee is to bring rugby league into the schools. “We think it would be a fantastic programme, to train our boys from primary through to college and out, so that we could produce great players like New Zealand does.” -Tiare Ponini
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