Lagoon cruises top a visitor satisfaction poll but shop opening hours and poor internet access head the list of gripes

Cruising on Muri lagoon,Rarotonga
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This update: 13th October, 2014
An exclusive summary by the website author who is a former BBC TV and radio journalist
The following  - unless otherwise credited - is a summary of the latest stories from  Cook Islands News,  the daily newspaper of the Cook Islands which is published Monday to Saturday inclusive.

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Its web site www.cookislandsnews.com is now updated daily.  The summary is published with the permission of the copyright owners Cook Islands News Ltd.     Click on any underlined headlines for the full story on the newpaper's own website.   Photos unless otherwise credited are copyright Cook Islands News
Scientists are dazzled by the results of whale tagging in Cook Islands waters
Cook Islands parliament building
Tagging a humpback whale
A traditional voyaging canoe is heading  to Australia to highlight  of climate change
Parliament has met fo the first time since the July general election, but controversy over the result rages on.  Prime Minister, Henry Puna whose Cook Islands Party has a one seat overall majority has won a vote of confidence from his MPs.   But the Democrats and One Cook Islands (OCI) opposition parties have called the vote illegal.  The two OCI members abstained in the vote by walking out of the House in protest. 

The Democrats are also appealing against four decisions by the High Court which awarded seats to the Cook Islands Party.  The Demos have engaged a Queen's Counsel  who says there are "some fundamental issues to appeal". 

Pukapuka's lagoon may still look stunning, but it's all but empty of sea life and its coral is mostly bleached and broken.   That's the finding of an EU funded survey by experts from the Minstry of Marine Resources.   Even paua (large edible sea snails) which were once abundant are almost non-existent.  The researchers say they found onll three in five days of surveying.   Now the vice-president of the local fishing club, Pati Lavalua wants answers about why other northern group islands haven't seen the same problems and what the government is going to do about it. 
Part of Pukapuka's lagoon
Ahead of the Parliamentary sitting, there were claims that the Demos had offered the role of Prime Minister to OCI MP, Teina Bishop as part of plans for an alliance, but the OCI has denied that.

The Cook Islands Party has 12 seats in the new Parliament,  the Demos have 9 and OCI have two, with one seat vacant pending a by-election in November.

Work is underway to bring renewable energy to the remote northern group islands.  Solar power projects have begun on Pukapuka and Rakahanga and in about three months, the construction teams will move to Nassau and Manihiki to start similar work.   Huge concrete slabs are being laid for the solar panels and more than 12,000 metres of cabling is being installed on Pukapuka alone.  LED street lamps will also be installed on  Pukapuka, Rakahanga, Palmerston and Nassau as the project continues.  But some islanders are concerned about the cost of the energy as meters are being put into homes to measure and charge for use. 
Trench digging for new power cables on Pukapuka
A new tuna fishing deal between Pacific nations and the United States could provide a big financial boost for the country.   The Islands is one of 17 countries that will share in NZ$90 million in return for 8,300 fishing days in 2015.  Marine Resources Secretary, Ben Ponia said that the abundant stocks in Cook Islands waters could generate around NZ$10 million a year from the deal. 
Greg Stanaway with the six top travel awards
Resort and boutique properties in Rarotonga and Aitutaki have been awarded the travel industry equivalent of 'Oscars'.   All three of the properties owned by the Pacific Resort Group picked up six majort honours between them.  The Pacific Resort Rarotonga was named as 'Australasia's Leading Boutique Resort 2014' for the first time, as well as 'Leading Family Resort' and 'Cook Islands Leading Resort'. 

The Pacific Resort Aitutaki took two regional honours as 'Australasia's Leading Boutique Island Resort 2014' and 'Australasia's Leading Resort 2014'.  And  Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa awarded 'Cook Islands Leading Villa Resort 2014' for the third consecutive year.  The Group CEO, Greg Stanaway is pictured left with the awards.

The story of a devastating cyclone which claims 19 lives and nearly wiped out one of the islands is going to be told in full for the first time thanks to a donation of NZ$1,000 from the National Council of Women.  The money will fund production, publication and distribution of a book about Cyclone Martin which hit Manihiki head on in November, 1997.  Proceeds from the sale will go to the island by way of a trust fund.  Journalist Rachel Reeves is in the final stages of editing the book for which interviewed more than 140 people affected by or involved in the cyclone story.