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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 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: 5th January, 2017
All pages open in a new window or tab and link to the latest on-line editiion of the paper
All of the 1.8 million square kilometres of Cook Islands territorial waters are set to become the world's largest protected marine park.  The Marae Moana, as it's known locally, was originally only going to cover the southern part of the waters.  But after two years of consultation, the government has decided it will extend across the whole of the country's Exclusive Economic Zone. A law is now being drafted to put it in place.   Prime Minister, Henry Puna is hoping the project will get a grant of NZ$7-10 million towards set up.  The plan is to deliver a scheme which supports sustainable economic growth, food security, livelihoods, cultural traditions and biodiversity conservation. 

Surfacing whale
Takutea reef
The waters around the islands atrract migrating whales.  And pristine reefs such as this one off Takutea are among the most stunning in the region.

Mauke's new king
A new king has been invested on Mauke.  Anthony James Turaki has been crowned Te Au Ariki, succeeding his father who died in 2012.   The Queen's Representative Tom Marsters representatives from the House of Ariki, and various MPs joined representatives from Cook Islands communities in Australia and New Zealand and islanders from Atiu and Mitiaro for the very special and rare event.  Right:  A feast fit for a king

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The government is planning to spend about NZ$70 million to clean up the water in the Rarotonga and Aitutaki lagoons.  Work could take ten years to complete and will focus on treatment and disposal of waste water which is finding its way into the lagoons, creating serious algae growth and killing corals.  The initiative follows the findings of a consultant marine biologist who said the survival of the lagoons was under threat from pollution, and in particular nutrients from septic tanks.
Left: Algae on Muri beach in Rarotonga
Algae on Raro beach
Landing a catch
The Islands have become the first Pacific nation to set quotas for albacore and bigeye tuna.   The system is underpinned by a system which is regarded globally as best practice for commercial fishing and supported by environmental group.   The Cook Islands now has a maximum limit of 50 longline vessels licensed to fish within territorial waters at any one time.
A Taiwanese longline vessel which fished illegally in Cook Islands waters last year has netted the government a settlement of more than NZ$250,000.   Essian 108 was registed in Vanuatu and the govenrment there has levied a fine against the owners, who also had to pay compensation equivalent to the value of their catch. 
Rarotonga airport exterior
It looks like the Islands will end the year with a new record for the number of tourists. 122,254 people visited the Islands in the first 10 months of the year, and previous year's trends suggest a further 20,000 will have arrived in November and December.  Every month up to October has shown a year on year increase.  65% of arrivals were from New Zealand but there was a dip in October of Australian visitors which is the second biggest market and a much larger fall in visitors from Asia.  European and UK arrivals were up 26 per cent increase  but that was still a very small total of 999.
Rarotonga airport is bracing itself for an influx of visitors who will set a new record for total arrivals
The Islands' Emergency Management Director says people are getting complacent about cyclones because there hasn't been a serious once since 2010 when Cyclone Pat devastated Aitutki (see photo left).  Charles Carson is urging islanders to make sure their roofs are tied down and they have emergency kit ready. 

 The regional warning centre in Fiji says the risk to the Cooks this season (November to April) is "normal".  But Mr Carson says everyone should still make preparations as tropical depressions like the one which recently hit Fiji can be just as damaging.  The worst cyclones in recent years were in 2005 when five hit the Islands in just five weeks.
New Zealanders living in the South Island will be able fly direct to the Islands again next year.   Virgin Australia is expected to repeat a weekly Saturday flight offering from Christchurch to Rarotonga which it introduced in 2016.  The service ran for 17 weeks from June to October. 
Students on bikes
A controversial new law making the wearing of crash helmets compulsory for most but not all bike and scooter riders is causing confusion and concern.  A number of tourists say they've been pulled over and ticketed by police, while young local riders have ridden by without helmets.  The law requires that anyone on a visitor's licence, holders of overseas motorcycle licences, all 16 to 25-year-olds and every motorcyclist and pillion passenger travelling above 40 km/h must wear  helmet. But Cook Islanders over 24 with a full local licence are exempt.  The local police chief said the law is for everyone's safety and he'll look into any cases of apparent failures to enforce it.