Champion of the blue sea

Saturday August 03, 2019 Written by Published in Environment
Jacqui Evans, Prime Minister Henry Puna, Ui Ariki president Tou Ariki, and Kevin Iro. 19080240 Jacqui Evans, Prime Minister Henry Puna, Ui Ariki president Tou Ariki, and Kevin Iro. 19080240

A vision of remoted-operated sail drones mapping the Cook Islands is just one of the challenges ahead of the country’s new oceans champion.


Kevin Iro is a passionate and firm believer in the preservation of our natural resources and our deep blue sea.

This week that was recognised when he was appointed the Marae Moana Ambassador, a project he has advocated since its inception.

“I see this as a vehicle to continue to support our country,” he told Cook Islands News. “If there is commonality that we have, it’s the ocean.”

Iro is well known locally and internationally for his sporting achievement. Dubbed “The Beast”, the former professional rugby league footballer, who played for New Zealand and the Cook Islands, shifted his attention to the marine environment after retiring from sport.

He ran the Cook Islands Marine Park promoting sustainable development and balanced economic growth with conservation of the ocean's natural assets.

“Kevin has been given an unofficial role as an ambassador for Marae Moana for some time and Cabinet has decided that his role needs official recognition,” says Minister for Marae Moana and Prime Minister, Henry Puna.

The position has a term of three years, renewable at the discretion of Cabinet, reporting to chief of staff Ben Ponia.

“Generally, the objectives of his role are to promote Marae Moana and to coordinate the establishment of a gold standard for tuna fisheries,” says Ponia.

The establishment of a gold standard requires the involvement of several government agencies, the private sectors local and abroad including cultural experts, which requires coordination and the nurturing of partnerships. 

“Iro has the character to perform this role well,” says Ponia. 

Plans for a “sail drone” to be used to fully map our ocean are in the pipeline.

Iro previously worked alongside Jacqui Evans on the Marae Moana Establishment Trust which funded the process of developing the Marae Moana Policy and legislation. 

Evans is the Director of the Marae Moana Coordination Office within the Office of the Prime Minister and looks forward to the working again with Iro.

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