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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 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
This update: 13 February, 2019
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New immigration rules are being drawn which will change the way in which foreigners can apply to become permanent residents.  Skills, expertise or financial investment won't be pre-requisite any more but applicants will have to demonstrate a commitment to Cook Islands culture and community.   Those applying will have toto demonstrate that they are proficient in the English language and that they have Cook Islands Maori language "ability".  And they will also have to get support from locals in the area where they plan to live.  New Zealanders will have priority.  The total number of permanent residency approvals a year will stay capped at 650.
Handing over the grant contract
Volunteer firefighters on Rarotonga are set to get the island's first aerial-ladder truck thanks to a grant from   the Japanese government.  The assitance of up to  NZ$132,527 will also pay for training. A grant contract for the project was signed by Japan's ambassador Hiroyasu Kobayashi and Alistair Macquarie, chairman and trustee of the Teimurimotia volunteer brigade.   Rescue Fire Services chief fire officer Willy Haga said the ladder could help them save lives.
The  population of the Islands is continuing to decline according to the  latest census.  The nationwide count on 1 December last year shows that 17,434 people now live on the 13 inhabited islands.  That's a drop of 2 per cent over five years ago.  Rarotonga remains the most populated island with 13,007 residents - equal to 75% of all those living in the Islands. Aiututak is the next most popualted with  1,941 people. Least populated are Palmerston with 58 residents and Nassau with 78,  There are more women than men in the Islands.  According to the census there are 8,597 males and 8,862 females.


Manganese nodules
Concerns are growing about plans for a new law about mining minerals from the seabed around the Cook Islands.  The government has extended the public consultation on the Seabed Minerals Bill 2019 by 3 weeks, but a local environmental group is questioning whether objections will be taken seriously enough.    Teina Mackenzie, president of Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) is worried that the new law will allow a government minister to by-pass the need for environmental impact assessments. Left: Manganese nodules from the seabed which could be worth hundreds of millions if mined
Family and friends at the site for the new Palmerston hostel
Above: Marsters family and friends have gathered on Rarotonga for a foundation laying and cornerstone ceremony at the site of the new Palmerston House hostel.  They're aiming to have the building ready to open on 8 July which will be exactly 156 years to the day from when Palmerston's founding father, William Marsters arrived on the remote island.  Descendant Sir Tom Marsters who is also the Queen's Representative it the Cook Islands is chairman of the committee managing the project.   The hostel will be a home from home for visiting islanders.  Find out more about Palmerston and the William Marsters' story

Public meetings, radio phone-ins and surveys will all be used over the next few weeks to help inform a decision on what the new minimum wage should be in the Islands.   It's currently NZ$7.25 (Aus$6.94, UK£​3.83, US$4.93 approx).  The Minimum Wage Panel has a statutory duty to review it every year and take on board public opinions.