Anti-chemical group Te Vai Ora Maori secretary Justine Flanagan said it meant the voice of the people who wanted chemical-free and free water would be heard.
“The fact we have had to resort to doing a petition is disappointing because the people have been saying the same thing for almost a decade now,” she said.
“Every time, the people of Rarotonga have said ‘no chemicals’ and ‘free water for our people’. So this is just another step,” she said. “Particularly in our experience collecting petitions, a lot of people are too frightened to sign them. They fear for their jobs.”
Flanagan and other protesters demonstrated across the road from the courthouse in Avarua yesterday, before they delivered the petition to Parliament, sitting in Arorangi.
The anti-chemical group say they want a trial of non-chemical based solutions such as UV filters before chemicals such as chlorine and poly-aluminium chloride are used to disinfect and treat water.
But Brent Manning, chief executive officer for water agency To Tatou Vai, said UV filters were not enough to resolve Rarotonga’s “third world” water quality. There were already UV filters in use on the island but they were not being maintained at the levels they should be.
“The concern we hold is that the methods Te Vai Ora Maori are promoting to achieve clean safe water simply won’t do that,” he said. “If the maintenance is not put in place and followed in every household, then the water quality deteriorates and the householder and their family is at risk.”
He said at community water stations, lack of maintenance had meant the gradual decline in water quality and most sites were failing the bacteriological standards.
-Moana Makapelu Lee