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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 updated daily and is highly recommended as a reliable source of news.  This summary is published with 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
This update: 17th June, 2019
Aitutaki is on the road to generating all its electricity from renewable sources.  The first phase of a new solar energy project is due to live in June when the massive array of panels pictured above are put into service.   They'll generate 750kw of power which means the island will be able to cut its fossil fuel consumption by 25%.  Phase two, scheduled for soon after June, will provide a further megawat of power and reduce the consumption by 60%.


Aitutaki solar array
Goldman Environmental Prize winner, Jacqueline Evans with her award
Jacqueline Evans in her Rarotonga office
Conservationist Jacqueline Evans has won the world's most prestigious environmental prize for the five year campaign she led to protect the Islands' stunning marine diversity.   She was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize - referred to by some as the 'Green' Nobel Prize' - for outstanding achievement for Islands and Island Nations.  It recognised her tireless efforts which resulted in the government passing the Marae Moana (Sacred Ocean) Act in 2017.  The law mandates the sustainable management of the Islands' entire ocean territory of nearly 1 million square kilometres (763,000 square miles).  She said she'll use the award money to support the environment that many Cook Islanders depend on and that so many tourists pay to experience.  This video which was shown at the awards ceremony in San Fransciso tells Jacqui's story.   Photos above are of her with her award and in the Marae Moana Coordination Office on Rarotonga where she's the director.  They are published with the permission of the Goldman Environmental Prize
The country's water safety boss wants tourism operators fined if they send visitors out into treacherous parts of the Rarotonga and Aitutaki lagoons without proper advice. Tourists have died swimming in the strong currents near the Avaavaroa and Papua Passages and near Vaimaanga on Rarotonga.  Brent Fisher, who's president of the Water Safety and Surf Lifesaving Council says the the  Passage, wants a new law fining or even banning unsafe operators.  The Council offer safety courses to operators but one has said compulsotry training would be "heavy handed".
Nursing chief Mary Kata
The new chief of nursing has highlighted a shortage of nurses in the Cooks.   Mary Kata said there are 118 across the country with just 31 in the outer islands.  Rarotonga has 76 and Aitutaki has 12.  But the next largest island, Atiu has only 3.  Mary wants to recruit Islanders first and foremost.  And she's also looking for older nurses who can teach the importance of the bedside manner. 
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Two cases of a type of flu which has caused deaths  have been reported in the Cook Islands.  So far, 12 flu cases have been identified but only two were type A which has proved fatal in Australia and New Zealand.  Dr Yin Yin May, the Ministry of Health's director Hospital Health Services, stressed this is a normal flu outbreak but some vulnerable groups could be at risk.  All health service staff are being vaccinated.
A 9 year old Aitutaki girl who was detailed when she arrived at Los Angeles airport with a close family friend, Marc Paearce is now back home.  Puna Raela (left) was held for nearly two weeks at a US facility for unaccompanied minors, after Customs Officers found what Cook Islands Ministry officials say was "questionable material" on Pearce's phone.  He was subsequently released and was able to assure Customs that family approval to take Puna to the US for a holiday.


Puna Raela
Layar Mas cargo ship
The government is going to buy its own cargo ship for NZ$2.5 million to service the outer islands.   Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Brown said it was necessary to provide a regular, affordable and reliable service between Rarotonga and the 12 other inhabited islands in the group.   Previously, the country has relied on contracts with the private sector.  Brown said that was not always reliable because it was difficult to run a viable commercial operation. 
Above: The Layar Mas which has been providing the cargo service under contract is being sold to the Bahamas.   It cost Cook Islands Towage NZ$1.2 million to service the outer islands in 2016
St Jospeh's RC Cathedral, Rarotonga
Christians in more than 170 countries will stop to pray for the Cook Islands in 2025.  The country has been chosen from 20 applicants to be the focus for the World Day of Prayer which is celebrated on 6 March each year.  Every year one country is chosen to write a prayer document that includes its country's history, a children's prayer, songs and a worship service that the world will follow over the internet that year. "He made us wonderful" (Psalm 139) is the theme for the Islands and the day will be led from the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Rarotonga (right)    Photo, author's own
The Cook Islands government is going to ban single- use plastics.  A policy to outlaw them will be included in a Bill going before Parliament by Christmas. The committee responsible for waste management says "the importation of non-biodegradable consumer goods is becoming a mounting burden for the economy, human health and the environment of the Cook Islands". 
Manganese nodules
The government has has forced through a new law on seabed mineral mining which has provoked international controversy.  The opposition Democratic Party said they wanted "proper consultation" about it.   The Seabed Minerals Authority which drafted the law has collected views from environmental groups and the public, but the Demos say that has only put forward the government view.  They're also concerned that the Minister responsible for seabed mining has full authority to grant exploration licences.
Manganese nodules like these above are abundant on the sea floor around part of the Cook Islands and the mining of them has prompted international concern about the environmental impact
Rocketman poster
The Cook Islands Chief Censor is set to ban the new Elton John film, 'Rocketman' because of its homosexual content.   That's despite it being available at Rarotonga's only cinema, 'The Empire' for the past week.  The management has now pulled it citing "technical issues".  The Censor said he wasn't told in advance about it and he may now follow Egypt and Samoa which have both banned it.  Homosexuality in the Cook Islands is illegal.