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: 19th 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
Wilkie Rasmussen
Prime Minister, Henry Puna (left) has survived a legal challenge to his election as an MP.  Chief Justice Thomas Weston has dismissed a petition claiming that Puna bribed voters with an offer of a free 15 horsepower outboard motor each during the July general election.   He also rejected a second allegation that alluded to a government programme to repair aluminium boats on Puna's home island of Manihiki.  
But oppositon Democratic Party leader, Wilkie Rasmussen has lost his seat in a separate legal action.   The Chief Justice ruled that Willie John of the Cook Islands Party was the rightful winner of the Penrhyn seat, although he struck out five votes leaving a five vote majority.  A series of bribery and treating allegations were also dismissed.  Rasmussen has been granted leave to appeal the decision if he wishes.
Henry Puna
Two other election petitions have been dismissed, leaving the the caretaker government of the Cook Islands Party with just a one seat majority in Parliament.   Veteran politician, Norman George alleged that his opponent on Atiu won the seat by offering motorcycles and washing machines in return for votes.  But the Chief Justice ruled against him on the grounds of insufficinet proof.   George was defeated on election night by Rose Toki Brown of the Cook Islands Party who is now confirmed as the new MP.    Incumbent MP, Mona Ioane has retained his Aitutaki seat after the dismissal of an electoral petition in his home constituency of Vaipae-Tautu.

Legal decisions on the results in two more constituencies -  Tamarua in Mangaia and the island of Mitiaro - are still to come.

Scientists are dazzled by the results of whale tagging in Cook Islands waters.  Seven humpbacks are now being tracked after what Rarotonga based world expert, Nan Hauser described as "the most dangerous thing I've ever done in my life".  Hauser led the precarious operation to attach the tags which allow the whales to be tracked by satellite for scientific research.  And they've revealed that one of the whales is swimming eastwards when normal migration is in a westerly direction.  Also under scrutiny is  a humpback nicknamed 'Beastie' who is 80 years old and 14 metres long.  She's still hanging round in the waters off Rarotonga.  
Left: Nan Hauser has spent more than 20 years studying whales (Photo: Nan Hauser's own picture)
Whale expert, Nan Hauser
Stunning pictures of the night skies over the Cook Islands have been published by a leading astronomer from the Czech Republic.  Petr Hor├ílek fell in love with the Islands when he visited Rarotonga for the first time in 2010.   One of his photographs was chosenrecently by NASA as the prestigious 'astronomy picture of the day'.  The collection, available on line at Petr's website - http://www.astronom.cz/horalek - features breathtaking photos taken on Aitutaki, Mangaia and the capital island.   And he's also suggesting that visits to the Islands just to look at the night sky could open up a whole new area of tourism.  
Right:  A view from Aitutaki = this picture, reproduced with Petr's permission, is actually made by 153 singular exposures and then mathematically stacked into this one
Nigh skies over Aitutaki