Cook Islands

Cooks agency assures power funds will stay in Aitutaki

Late last month the board of the Aitutaki Power Authority was removed and former chair Allan Mills claimed this was to give the CIIC access to its financial reserves.

The corporation's Mike Henry rejected that.

He said the old authority was unable to use the funds, and the new Aitutaki agency, which would essentially be a state owned enterprise, will have the power to spend them.

Cook Islands applauded for marine management

The country recently announced all water within its 50 nautical mile zone would be protected from commercial fishing,

The government wants to reduce interaction between commercial fishers and whales within Cook Islands waters.

The Cook Islands Minister of Environment, Kiriau Turepu, says his country recognises the importance of whales in the oceans, environment, economy and culture.

He says calving happens in Cooks' waters, which makes them even more special to Cook Islanders.

Efforts underway to save Cook Islands jewel

Consultants are on the job to help save the waterway, which has been suffering from an algal bloom and coral bleaching.

Despite its problems, Muri is still one of the Cook Islands' biggest drawcards for tourists and several were out paddling, snorkelling and lolling in the warm shallows last week.

"It's a peaceful lagoon and I'm not too strong in the water so it's about my speed and it's sheltered and you can snorkel right off the beach. This is perfect for us," said Richard Smith, who had just arrived from Canada.

Drastic action urged over Muri lagoon

A combination of factors is believed to be behind the algal growth which has been spreading in the tourist hotspot since late 2015 and consultants have been engaged to find a solution within 18 months.

Manavaroa Mataiapo Tutara of Avana, Philip Nicholas, said there was no time to wait for another consultants' report and drastic action was needed.

He said one of the channels into the lagoon, the Avana-Ngatangiia harbour, was virtually silted up affecting not only Muri but the local community and fishers.

UN seat remains long-term goal for Cook Islands

New Zealand had knocked back the government's aspirations for a seat, saying it was not an option if the Cook Islands wanted to retain New Zealand passports for its people.

The Cook Islands 'free association' relationship with New Zealand leaves Wellington responsible for defence and foreign policy and while the Cook Islands had separate membership of some UN agencies it was represented by New Zealand at the main international body.

Cooks sells 100 extra fishing days to US

The deal between the two countries struck last month comes on top of the United States' regional arrangement for access to tuna via the vessel day scheme.

The Finance Minister Mark Brown said the US firms like the way the Cook Islands manages its fishery and it had established a reputation for being fair and reasonable.

"They want additional days from our surplus stock of vessel fishing days that we have available so we've managed to sell to the US fleets another hundred days of fishing access."

Cooks govt sets 50 nautical mile exclusion zones

Cabinet this week agreed unanimously to the increased buffer zones which the country's traditional leaders, the Marae Moana Marine Park Project and environmental group Te Ipukarea Society have been lobbying for over the past four years

Describing it as a landmark decision, Prime Minister Henry Puna said it would have a minimal impact on the longline fishing industry and the needs of the Cook Islands people for food security and preservation of the ocean were paramount.


Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox The Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna 

More tests, money needed to boost Pacific league teams

The Mate Ma'a will take on Fiji in May's Pacific Test, which has been boosted by the inclusion of England and the Cook Islands.

Woolf was excited by the growth of the international weekend.

"It's great to see that it's expanding and really good to see the Cook Islands involved - they've certainly deserved that for a while I think," he said.

"They were really competitive at the last World Cup and they were really hard for us to beat not that long ago in a World Cup qualifier as well.

Cook Islands aim for half of MPs to be women by 2030

About 70 women took part in the events which coincided with International Women's Day on 8 March.

Parliamentary Speaker Nikki Rattle said there were women in the community who wanted to be involved but don't know how.

She said in the current parliament there were just four women among the 24 MPs.

"[In] 2015, globally, we were to reach 30 percent of women in parliament - we didn't do that, and now the theme for this year is Planet 50/50 by 2030. So I think it is quite obvious that you do need the voice of women to be better."


'Huge task' to tackle plastic waste in Pacific waters

That comes after an announcement by the United Nations' environmental agency that it has declared war on plastic, saying that more than eight-million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean each year.

The UN is urging governments to ban or tax single-use plastic bags and legislates to reduce the use of other disposable plastic.

Technical director of Te Ipukarea Society, Kelvin Passfield, said he hoped that the Cook Islands and other Pacific nations joined the UN's campaign as that will put more pressure on the countries producing the plastic.