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This update: 13th May, 2015
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
Matt Gifford
A Kiwi musician is planning to capture his Penrhyn heritage of hymns and songs
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The 60 residents of remote Palmerston have 24 hour power for the first time, thanks to the sun
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Palmerston's solar power station
A new set of coins is being minted to celebrate 50 years of self-government in the Cook Islands, although most will retain the current designs
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$1 Cook Islands coin
Air Rarotonga plane over Aitutaki
France is offering military help to transport people from the outer islands to the 50th anniversary constitution celebrations on Rarotonga in August.  The nation says it will provide a naval vessel to assist.  And French Polynesia has offerd a cargo/passenger ship which was chartered by the Cook Islands government for the 2008 event.   Officials from Papeete will visit Rarotonga next to work out the details and also provide technical assistance with the organisation if it's needed.

50th anniversary logo
Purse seining protestors
Purse seining involves using huge dragnets
Pressure is growing on the government for a total ban on a controversial method of fishing which protestors say will severely damage the local industry and put islanders out of jobs.   About 400 people marched through town in Rarotonga chanting their objections to purse seining, an on line petition has nearly 1,500 signatures and an international petition is also adding to the opposition.  A "No fish, No Future" Facebook page has had around 1,300 likes as well.  The petition calls on the government to sell no more purse seine fishing days, and phase them out altogether by March next year.

The government has signed a deal with the Korean fishing company Silla Co for 400 days of purse seine fishing, and a US fleet of purse seiners has been fishing in Cook Islands waters since 2012.  Cabinet recently granted approval for more negotiations on the remaining 1,250 purse seine allocations for 2015.
Top  Left:  purse seining in action (Photo: Greenpeace); bottom left: the protest march


Claims that a ban on Sunday flights to Aitutaki will lead to 500 residents leaving the island have been branded as "scare tactics".    The Aitutaki Business Association say a referendum supporting a ban on Sunday flights to keep the Sabbath holy would lead to 150 job losses from the impact on tourism.   But their view on the mass exodus of islanders has incensed Rarotonga resident, Larry Price who says "a few greedy people" are using the decision to frighten Cook Islanders into giving up what they really believe in.  And a former Cook Islands News journalist, Moana Moeka says islanders have continued to leave for many years despite the growth of tourism.

Manihiki and Penrhyn are joining the solar power revolution which is sweeping through the Cook Islands as part of government plans to be energy self-sufficient by 2020.   Representatives of the New Zealand and Islands' governments will travel to the remote northern group islands next week for the switch on of the schemes which will generate at least 90% of each island's electricity.   The projects are part of a NZ$20.5 million scheme.   Solar power plants have been  built at Tukao and and Tauhunu on Manihiki, and Omoka and Te Tautu on Penrhyn.

Similar work has already been completed on Rakahanga, Nassau, Palmerston and (pictured left) Pukapuka.


Solar power comes to Pukapuka
One retailer on Rarotonga is dropping the price of petrol to NZ$1.99 a litre as its contribution to the Islands' 50th anniversary of self-rule.  The Energy Centre says it will make a loss from the reduction but they decided they wanted to play a part in making the cost of living cheaper.  The deal is expected to continue for  a month

Happy 50th Cook Islands from the Energy Centre
A new public-private sector collaboration is bolstering support for businesswomen in the Islands.  The Business Trade Investment Board, the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute and the Chamber of Commerce are working together as part of the Cook Islands National Gender Equality Project which is being funded by the Australian government to the tune of NZ$450,000.  Specialist advise, soft loans and mentoring are all included in the scheme which aims to expand business development by women, especially on the outer islands.