Rasmussen’s claim in CI News yesterday that plans by the Government or any other entity to turn Penrhyn Island into a giant hub for fishing boats in the region will be fiercely resisted by Penrhyn Islanders are “nonsensical,” Pitt says.
“There is no official development project of the sort.
“Why Rasmussen is given so much space for fantasy-driven drivel is really mystifying.
“Both the PM and the sitting MP recognise they are duty-bound to preserve the long term interests of the island’s people.
“They will ensure every concern is catered for in the most appropriate way possible when it comes to development in Penrhyn, and elsewhere for that matter.
“This has already been demonstrated by example: the government’s conservationist vision to convert Penrhyn (and the whole of the North) to renewable energy.
“Rasmussen may be feeling the chill of sideline politics. He is not the arbiter of development needs.
“Perhaps he can find a more constructive way to add value to advancement, or at least stand on a record of achievements.”
However, developer Tim Tepaki, a member of the Merchants of Paradise group which is proposing ambitious projects for the Northern Group, including a fishing hub in Penrhyn, a large scale agricultural enterprise on Mangaia and even a golf course and resort on Atiu, also says government has plans for a fishing base on Penrhyn.
He says government’s interest in developing a base on the island was confirmed by Ministry of Marine resources head Ben Ponia during a meeting with Merchants of Paradise representatives.
“Ben thinks government should go so far as to develop floating docks and make Penrhyn into a huge fishing centre, which would be a huge endeavour,” says Tepaki.
“Our concept is far more simple – Penrhyn would be simply a base for the transhipment of fish. But we agree with Wilkie that the matter should be advised to the people of Penrhyn.
“That’s the difference between our proposal and government’s: we have already engaged with the people.
“We support government’s plans, but we don’t think they should go so far.”