This update: 18th April, 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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Pa flies the flag
Pa Teuruaa who for years has taken tourists on nature walks around and to the interior of Rarotonga has won a top award
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This website, its content and the Kia Orana logo are copyright
A dramatic sign post now marks an historically and culturally important site on Rarotonga
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Two Olympians are among 39 athletes representing the Islands at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland
 
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Luisa lifts 82kgs at London 2012
One of the unspoiled motus in Aitutaki lagoon
Aitutaki has been voted the second best island in the South Pacific and seventh best in the world in a poll on the 'Trip Advisor' website
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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
ZIKA VIRUS SPREAD TO OUTER ISLANDS

The mosquito-borne zika virus which has already affected more than 800 people on Rarotonga has now spread to the outer islands.   48 cases have been reported on Aitutaki, two on Mauke, one on Manihiki and "a few" on Atiu, according the Health Ministry.  The outbreak - the first of its kind in the Cook Islands - began in February.  Health officers have now stopped block spraying and are concentrating on treating areas around the homes of people who have contracted the virus (see picture, right)
BUDGET SURPLUS FORECAST FOR 2014-15

The government is expecting to have a budget surplus again this year.  Finance Minister, Mark Brown is forecasting the country will be in the black to the tune of NZ$314,000 because of ministry spending cuts and a lower than expected subsidy to Air New Zealand for its long haul flights to Rarotonga.  T new budget includes  extra money for two schools on Rarotogna which were hit by a series of arson attacks last year, and additional funds for the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee.
GENERAL ELECTION SET FOR JULY

Cook Islanders will go to the polls on July 9th to elect a new government.   An early date has been announced to allow enough time for the incoming adminstration to to organise next year's celebrations marking 50 years of self-rule.   The outgoing goverment of Henry Puna will manage the country a caretaker capacity until the election results are announced.   Right:  The Prime Minister has dissolved Parliament in readiness
THE NIGHT THE MOON TURNED RED

This rare event is called a "blood moon"...and the skies over Rarotonga cleared just in time to give people a stunning view of our nearest neighbour in space as they've never seen it before.  It was all down to a lunar eclipse on Wednesday.  At the peak of the eclipse, the moon enters the Earth's full shadow and the atmosphere then scatters the sun's red visible light which reflects off the moon.  This photo was taken by  local Willie Tuiravaka
DEPARTURE TAX EXEMPTION PROPOSED FOR CRUISE SHIPS

Cruise ship passengers should soon be able to stay over in Rarotonga for more than 24 hours without having to stump up NZ$65 in departure tax.   Government Ministers are going to look at changing the regulations after Oceania Cruises threatened last week to boycott the islands and cut short a two day visit because of the tax.  Financial Secretary, Richard Neves said a 48 hour tax free stop over was the most likely solution.   But it will only apply to commercial cruise lines and not to other ships docking at Rarotonga. 
MANIHIKI HARBOUR UPGRADE SET TO START

The first steps are being taken to a long awaited upgrade of the harbours on Manihiki.   Construction equipment and materials are on their way to the northern group island after completion of a similar project on Mangaia.  Manihiki's Tauhunu and Tukao harbours were both severely damaged in 1997 by Cyclone Martin and ever since islanders have had problems with fishing and cargo unloading.  The six month project will cost NZ$2.8 million and provide work for 14 people.  Right: contractors have just completed similar work on Mangaia