The first steps are being taken to try to revitalise the black pearl farming business More
A Rarotonga woman who has devoted 50 years of her life to promoting peace has been honoured for her work More
A proposed new law will protect traditional culture inlcuding hunting and fishing practices, chants carvings, costumes and recipes More
Pa Teuruaa who for years has taken tourists on nature walks around and to the interior of Rarotonga has won a top award More
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PIG HUNTERS MAY HAVE STARTED ATIU BUSH FIRE
A huge bush fire has swept through the hills of Aitutaki, at one stage threatening some homes. The blaze cut a 2km trail across the middle of island. Residents, and staff from the Tamuna Beach tourist resort joined forces with the local Rescue Crash Fire Service to fight the blaze. A lack of rain over the past six months has left grass and trees in the hills of Amuri tinder dry. The Island's mayor said he thinks the fire may have been started by hunters trying to flush pigs out of the scrub. More
CULTURE AND TAXES ON PARLIAMENT'S AGENDA
Parliament has begun its final sitting of the year without the Prime Minister. The five day session includes the introduction of a bill to change the tax system. There's also a Bill to protect Cook Islands culture such as hunting, fishing, chants, carvings, costumes, recipes, and traditional navigational knowledge. PM, Henry Puna is Fiji where he's addressing the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas.
NEW TREATMENT PLANT HELPS ATIU COPE WITH WATER SHORTAGE
A water treatment plant has arrived in Atiu to help the island cope with water shortages. It was acquired in 2009 by the Red Cross to treat water on Aitutaki after Cyclone Pat hit the island. Residents have been carting water from wells because a lack of rain has left public tanks very low. Supplies Aitutaki are described as "critical" and on Mangaia, Mauke and Mitiaro they're being monitored closely.
NIGHT MARKETS 'PUTTING TOURISTS HEALTH AT RISK'
Restaurant owners in Rarotonga are claiming that night markets in the Muri area are putting the health and safety of tourists at risk. They say the vendors aren't subject to the same strict food handling standards and there are no toilet facilities. Marcus Niszow, deputy head of the Pacific Resort, said he was fully in favour of the market but is worried about his guests getting food poisoning. And he denied it was because restaurant owners were worried about the markets taking customers away because they couldn't compete on price. One of the market vendors said they'd had a visit from the health department and if they needed to change anything, they would.
Debbie Hunter, organiser of the Muri night market has strongly denied claims they're putting tourists at risk
TAX CHANGE 'MEANS MORE MONEY IN THE POCKET'
The planned changes to the tax system should mean more money in Islanders' pockets, according to the Finance Minister, Mark Brown (right). Personal income taxes will be cut, and pensioners will get an increase in their monthly payment. Most of the remaining import levies will also be abolished. But the rate of value added tax which is levied on all goods and services will rise from 12.5 to 15 per cent from April 1 next year.
'BREAK THE SILENCE, END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE'
More than a hundred people have taken part in a march organised by the Cook Islands Police calling for a stop to domestic violence against women. The police have a zero tolerance policy in place and seen to be leading in the Pacific region. Officers have cue cards in their notebooks to help them with procedures when they deal with incidents.
MIMIMUM WAGE RISE PLAN IS 'RIDICULOUS'
A plan to raise the NZ$5 an hour minimum wage by just 12 cents has been branded "ridiculous" by the Cook Islands Workers Association. The last rise was in 2006. Association president, Anthony Turua said he wanted to see an increase of at least NZ$1 an hour. The government is expected to set up a review panel in January which will include a representative of employees.
MISS COOK ISLANDS IS NEW MISS SOUTH PACIFIC Miss Cook Islands has been crowned as the new MIss South Pacific. 20 year old Teuira Rachel Napa was the youngest of the 10 contestants from across the region competing in a week fo friendship and rivalry in the Solomon Islands. She said she "felt humble" to have won the title and she was sure her country would be proud of her. Source: Solomon Star newspaper on line