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Esther Honey to close down

Thursday December 14, 2017 Written by Published in Local
Esther Honey Foundation volunteers have treated more than 45,000 animals since 1995. 17121320 Esther Honey Foundation volunteers have treated more than 45,000 animals since 1995. 17121320

The Esther Honey Foundation, which has offered free vet care on Rarotonga for 22 years, will close down this month.


In a press release the organisation said it would “cease providing veterinary services for the Rarotonga community and vacate the EHF Animal Clinic site on December 31 2017”.

It said the reason for the closure was “simple”: the lack of an alternative site to its current premises in Nikao, which it has been told to vacate.

In 2015 the landowners, Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC), gave Esther Honey a 30-day eviction notice, however the organisation was given a stay of execution after widespread public outcry.

At the time CIIC said it had “no complaint against the Esther Honey Foundation per se” but explained that the site was “not well suited” to its purpose and added that the land use did “not fit with the Corporation’s residential future plans”.

The search for a new location then began and an alternative site, also owned by CIIC, was identified in Arorangi, said EHF.

“At all times we trusted that a site, being narrowed down to the Arorangi location, would become the new home for the Esther Honey Foundation Animal Clinic,” said the organisation.

But in May this year the EHF said it was “stunned” to receive an email saying the alternative site was no longer available.

The message from CIIC chief Tamarii Tutangata, which has been seen by CINews, said a former EHF employee had established a “locally owned, managed and operated animal clinic”.

Tutangata also said he had met with one of the founders of the proposed clinic and “other local residents who are in full support of the establishment of a local clinic.” He continued that he also received support “from the President of the local chapter of the SPCA and others including an ex-Esther Honey volunteer”.

“We have more recently been informed that the local clinic has in fact been formally registered as the Te Are Manu Incorporation and its members are ready to begin establishing a clinic at the site that we had offered to Esther Honey.”

Te Are Manu, which also offers free animal welfare services, opened its doors in September, and will welcome a new vet from Australia this week.

In a statement confirming its closure the organisation said it had spent more than $12m since the Cook Islands since 1995, when US animal advocate Cathy Sue Ragan-Anunsen opened the first animal clinic in the country after a visit to Rarotonga.

 “Our volunteers have treated more than 45,000 animals including sterilizing more than 17,000 dogs and cats at no charge to the community.

“Our humane and basic animal health care presentations reached every Rarotonga primary school as well as schools visited during our 119 EHF Vet Treks to outer islands.

“EHF’s continued presence and the thousands of EHF volunteers who have worked and lived in the Cook Islands are not the only reason there has been a significant positive shift in the way animals are viewed and treated in the Cook Islands since the 90s, but Esther Honey has been an important contributor.

“When we first arrived the majority of dogs suffered the same maladies as those on other Pacific islands including debilitating parasitic infestations, poor nutrition, skin diseases, untreated injuries, useless limbs and excruciating deaths. Some might recall that that there was no pet food in the stores.

“We hope that Esther Honey’s dedicated, passionate and skilled volunteers have played a meaningful role in the country’s transformation that is now generated from within and will be sustained overtime.

“We are forever grateful for the kindness and generosity of so many who have warmly welcomed EHF into their community.”

- Jonathan Harwood


  • Comment Link Stephanie Schulz Tuesday, 31 December 2019 06:12 posted by Stephanie Schulz

    I've been donating every month, since then, with no word eh has closed,,,or it got stuck in my spamfolder,,how do I get my money back? Where did it go?

  • Comment Link Tracey Lawrance Sunday, 15 April 2018 22:52 posted by Tracey Lawrance

    It is a shame that the government isn't stepping in to support. Even if their own group is established the islands could do with both organisations operating. Very sad. I just hope that strategies are in place to continue with the welfare of the islands animals.

  • Comment Link Donna Friday, 13 April 2018 11:48 posted by Donna

    Wow, this is very disappointing. I won't be visiting the Cook Islands anytime soon. Shame on those who fail to support the very worthy efforts of the Esther Honey Foundation.

  • Comment Link Beverley Richardson Thursday, 12 April 2018 17:54 posted by Beverley Richardson

    I am extremely saddened that the Cook Island Government has not stepped in to aid an organisation that has helped the welfare of so many inhabitants, free of charge, for so many years. I have donated to them since first visiting in 2002 and seeing the wonderful works they do in the absence of any consideration by the peoples of Rarotonga or any government representation. Shame on those in a position to aid but have failed to come forward.
    Absolute shame....

  • Comment Link Kate Thomas Thursday, 12 April 2018 14:23 posted by Kate Thomas

    So sorry to read this news!! My husband and I donated a big box of vet supplies on our trip in June 2017,I was always in awe of this clinic and the wonderful work and education that has come from this wonderful set up! You can all be proud of this,I’m a vet nurse and I saw for myself the tough conditions you had to work in..but well done to all of you.I do hope that whatever happens,the animals of the Cook Islands still receive the care,they deserve,and the Islanders still keep learning and sharing the knowledge of animal ownership& responsibility...Good luck and go well for sny future ventures,very sad to hear the end of an era!! Peace& love.

  • Comment Link Extremely Disappointed!!! Thursday, 15 February 2018 22:42 posted by Extremely Disappointed!!!

    As a regular visitor to the Cook Islands,my Whanau & I are extremely disappointed & sad wirh the closing of The Esther Honey Foundation...Each time we have visited the Cook Islands,I have volunteered & donated money to this amazing foundation.. I have seen first hand all the amazing care & attention given to so many beautiful animal's..I have also been told that many dogs are getting shot..Is this true?.Kind regards M.Anasasiatis

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