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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Plans to deepen and widen the entrance to Aitutaki's Arutanga habour are on hold, amid continuing controversy
A new look Aitutaki
Black pearl oysters on show
Visitors have a chance for the first time to see the oysters which produce the rare Cook Islands black pearls without venturing to the remote island where they're farmed
This update: 1st September, 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
Results in Penrhyn, Aitutaki and Manihiki are also being challenged in court.   And they'll decide the future of both the caretaker Prime Minister, Henry Puna (right) and former opposition leader, Wilkie Rasmussen (left).  The petition involving Puna also alleges bribery. 

New Zealand QC, Sir Hugh Williams, sitting as a Cook Islands High Court Judge,  will also rule on what to do about a tied result on Mitiaro.

Wilkie Rasmussen
Prime Minister Puna
The next Cook islands government will be decided in court over the coming two weeks.   The Cook Islands Party (CIP) won 13 of the 24 Parliamentary seats in the July general election, but legal petitons about some of the results mean the final outcome is still uncertain.  Court proceedings will begin in Mangaia where the CIP had a majority of just one vote.  Two petitions will be heard in Atiu and involve multiple allegations of bribery and corruption.

The animal loving new dog control officer
A control offier has been appointed to tackle the persisistent problem of roaming dogs on Rarotonga.  47 year old father of seven, Donalder Tua will work with the Esther Honey animal charity and the Cook Islands SPCA which plans to build kennels   at its Vaimaanga base.   Registered dogs will be taken there but unregistered ones will be rounded up and put down.  Roaming packs of dogs have prompted strong criticism from tourists and bad publicity overseas for the Islands.  Tua says his first task will be to meet with locals and raise awareness about dog ownership laws.
Palmerston is facing  power problems again despite getting a new generator last week.  It's being run for only 12 hours a day until replacement parts can be delivered from New Zealand.  Frequent oil changes are needed to keep it running until then.   A sailing yacht has offered to deliver the parts which are being flown into Aitutaki. To make up for the limited power, islanders with their own generators are sharing their supply.  Palmerston depends on the power for freezers holding fish for export.  In the meantime, all fishing has stopped and affected islanders have been advised to empty their freezers. 
Left:  fishing is vital to the fragile econony of remote Palmerston (picture courtesy of Rose Teai, Tahiti)
Fishing is vital to the Palmerston islanders
Sweeping the runway
Atiu residents have been out in force sweeping the island's runway after an Air Rarotonga plane punctured a tyre on landing.  An exposed piece of sharp coral was blamed for the blowout.  The island's MP has announced that Cabinet has just approved NZ$1.5 million to stabilise the coral surface.   Air Rarotonga managing director, Ewan Smith said he also discussing a long term solution which would involve laying a tarmac surface.
Landowners on remote Pukapuka have agreed to let the government use an acre of land to build a solar energy farm.  Roto villagers will get a one off payment of NZ$100,000 for the land.  Materials to build the farm will begin arriving next month.  The work is part of a major programme to deliver a hybrid energy generation system to the Northern group islands enabling them to get 95% of their power needs from renewable sources.   The NZ$20.5 million project is being funded by New Zealand.
Signed and sealed
Tagging a humpback whale
Three scientists and a marksman are risking their lives in the waters around Rarotonga to help scientists learn more about humpback whales.  Satellite transmitter tags are being attached to ten of the massive creatures, under the leadership of locally based and internationally acclaimed whale expert, Nan Hauser.
She described the task as "precasious" because it involves firing at each whale from between two and five metres away from their boat.  Each tag costs $3600 and it's taken Hauser years to save enough money to buy seven of them. An eighth tag has been donated by Muri Beach Club Hotel and two more by Peter Seligmann who is head of Conservation International. 
You can follow the tagging work on Nan's blog.   This picture is courtesy of that site