That was the message delivered by Rarotonga Airport chairman, JJ Browne, who came to Rarotonga from Aitutaki this week for the official handover of a new x-ray screening machine with New Zealand High Commissioner Peter Marshall yesterday morning.
Browne acknowledged past airport security contributions from the New Zealand government including earlier x-ray machines, walk-through metal detectors, vehicles, technical support and specialised training.
This assisted the airport to meet the security challenges of the modern world, he said.
Browne said the airport authority would continue to meet its obligations under international civil aviation regulations, even though limited budgets made it challenging at times.
The new x-ray machine’s total cost was $150,000. Both the New Zealand and Cook Islands governments contributed $75,000, in a continuing show of strength of the alliance between the two countries.
Marshall said the contribution was part of being proactive, and anticipating the region’s security needs. The New Zealand government would continue to be practically involved and would help to the extent needed by the Cook Islands.
Paying tribute to local airport authority staff, Marshall said that aside from overarching international civil aviation standards, and the money needed to police borders, at the end of the day it all came down to the people on the ground who were actually doing the work.
“Their energy and interest and ongoing efforts go hand in hand with the security equipment.”
Browne also acknowledged the efforts of New Zealand civil aviation authority and security adviser to the Pacific Islands, Athol Glover, who he said was instrumental in delivering the new x-ray machine.
Glover said the NZCAA aimed to deliver a consistent security approach across the Pacific, where he now oversees 55 similar machines.
The NZCAA provides ongoing training and 24/7 service to ground staff.
He said the aim was to ensure an international standard of security that protected passengers passing through Rarotonga airport, by identifying restricted items and substances.
The machine is seen as one of the most important lines of defence in protecting an economy based on tourism.